UBC Reports | Vol. 48 | No. 3 | Feb.
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
"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
"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
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.