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UBC Reports | Vol. 48 | No. 3 | Feb. 7, 2002

UBC earns lion's share of innovation funding

Research excellence rewarded by national panel of peers

Researchers at UBC and its affiliated teaching hospitals received almost $76 million in infrastructure research funding for 16 projects -- the largest amount awarded -- from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) in a recent competition.

"There is no substitute for excellence, that's what this is all about," says UBC President Martha Piper. "This is not regional distribution. This is pure research reviewed by the experts in the field."

The total funding for B.C. will generate significant new knowledge that will benefit students, the economy and society, Piper adds.

CFI made a Canada-wide investment of $588 million to support infrastructure projects in Canadian universities, colleges, hospitals and not-for-profit research institutions.

"This is an extraordinary accomplishment and the researchers deserve a great deal of credit for their creativity and excellence," says Indira Samarasekera, UBC's vice-president, Research.

With CFI funding of almost $13 million, the International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries (ICORD) Centre -- to be built at Vancouver General Hospital -- will be the first Canadian research centre and the second in the world focused on interdisciplinary development of spinal cord injury (SCI) therapies.

"This funding allows us to build a leading-edge facility. We anticipate that this will become one of the world's premier spinal cord injury centres," says John Steeves, ICORD's principal investigator and director of the CORD research group at UBC since 1995.

The concept for the centre was initiated by the Vancouver-based Rick Hansen Institute (RHI), an organization that aims to accelerate the discovery of a cure for SCI. The RHI and Vancouver General Hospital, a part of the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, are partners in the centre.

"This is the beginning of my new dream," says Hansen. "Most of what we know about spinal cord injury has been discovered in the last 10 years. With today's knowledge and technology, the time is right to get to work on new cures and treatments. We believe it is possible to walk away from a spinal injury."

The new building, comprising approximately 7,000 square metres, will be located at the Vancouver General Hospital site so that new knowledge can be rapidly translated into new therapies. More than 300 Vancouver-based researchers as well as up to 12 visiting research teams will share equipment and facilities to complete programs that could not be achieved by a single discipline.

"The centre represents what can be achieved through partnerships that bring together world-class scientists, physicians, patients and community leaders towards a common goal of discovery through research," says Philip Hassen, CEO of the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority. "Our collaboration with UBC and the Rick Hansen Institute offers immense capacity for us to mobilize resources in developing the best treatments."

UBC's Museum of Anthropology (MOA) Interdisciplinary Research Facility received funding of more than $17 million. It will be the first such facility in the world to link scholars, First Nations communities and research museums. It will be located in renovated space at MOA.

"This facility will accelerate the pace of museum research," says Ruth Phillips, MOA director "The potential for technology to support collaborative research is enormous and critical where research partners are geographically dispersed and knowledge systems are culturally distinct."

The Reciprocal Research Network will link North American researchers and collections via an electronic network that will provide access to artifacts, images and knowledge.

Interdisciplinary investigations will look at material and visual culture, language and oral history museology and repatriation, and new technology and intellectual property.


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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