CFI funds will support health, science, engineering and social sciences research

(Edmonton) The Canada Foundation for Innovation's latest funding announcement today contains good news for the University of Alberta. The university will receive the bulk of the funds announced by the foundation, monies that will support research in health, science, engineering and social sciences.

Thirty-four U of A researchers will share more than $7.1 million for 24 projects supported by the foundation's Leaders Opportunity Fund, which is designed to support key research at Canadian universities by giving these institutions the resources needed to attract and retain the top researchers in a competitive international research market. Today, CFI announced a total of $61,291,274 in new funds to support 246 projects at 48 institutions across Canada.

The announcement, made at a handful of select institutions across Canada, including the University of Alberta, was welcomed by university administration as well as U of A researchers and grad students who will benefit from the project monies. The local announcement was presented by minister Rona Ambrose, member of Parliament for Edmonton-Spruce Grove, who spoke of the necessity of investing science and technology to fuel Canada's future economic growth. Ambrose noted that the U of A's funding was the second highest of any institution in Canada.

Carl Amrhein, U of A provost and vice-president (academic), welcomed the news of this announcement as an opportunity for the U of A to continue its contribution to Canada's knowledge economy. He said that the search for new knowledge is "built on human talent" and that CFI's investment in university infrastructure is one way of securing that talent.

"Funding like CFI's Leaders Opportunity Fund allows us to put into place the infrastructure that enables talented individuals to reach ever-higher levels of achievement," said Amrhein. "That first-rate infrastructure means we remain international competitive in attracting and retaining the very best faculty, post-doctoral fellows, research associates and graduate students to our institution."

"The support received from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation will allow the University of Alberta to continue its work building a legacy of excellence in cutting-edge research worldwide," said Amrhein. "It will also provide the university and the researchers with the opportunity to attract some of the top academic minds at the graduate and post-doctoral level."

Among the University of Alberta recipients are:

- Klaus Ballanyi, whose study of neurons and the brain�s glial and microglial cells will significantly improve our understanding of neurological diseases, open new routes to pharmacological strategies for treatment and provide important commercialization opportunities.

- Frank Wuest, who, through his use of a small animal PET/CT scanner to translate basic knowledge on tumor biology and molecular cell biology into clinical applications, will support innovative translational cancer research programs.

- John Klassen, whose research is aimed at the development of new and effective treatments for a variety of bacterial and viral infections and diseases, will use mass spectrometry to analyze high-molecular weight-protein complexes.

- Marcello Tonelli, who will establish a novel, state-of-the-art, province-wide renal databank, The Alberta Dialysis Databank, that will allow new discoveries of the causes, consequences and optimal treatment of kidney failure.

Ania Ulrich, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was also one of the recipients and offered her sincere thanks to CFI for continued funding of her research into groundwater contamination and the use of bacteria to remove pollutants from freshwater sources. Her CFI funding will be used to purchase a flow cytometry system for use in her research on the dynamics of bacterial communities.

"This infrastructure will assist in research that will result in improved air, soil and water quality through the application of microbial communities," she said. "The increased economic activities associated with the research, development and commercialization of novel technologies will create and support innovative collaborations and partnerships while attracting and training graduate students."

Since its inception in 1997, CFI has invested more than $5 billion in support of Canadian research projects, of which the University of Alberta has received more than $218 million.