UBC Gains Global Brains With New Federal Research Positions

University of British Columbia research will be expanded to include studies of plant chemicals that influence brain function, the future of copyright and other areas with the appointment today of eight researchers who have been named as new Canada Research Chairs (CRC).

Investigators — three of whom are returning to Canada — come to UBC from institutions that include Cambridge University, Imperial College, and the University of London in the U.K., as well as University of California and the California Institute of Technology.

The UBC positions, including renewed positions, are valued at $5.5 million, and are among 126 federally funded research positions, representing a total investment of $more than $102 million distributed to universities, research institutes and hospital across Canada today. In addition, the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) supported the UBC positions with $500,000 and provided $10.4million across Canada.

UBC has appointed 127 of the 158 positions allocated to the university since the program’s inception in 1997.

The federally funded research positions are designed to build Canada’s research capacity. An investment of $900 million will support the establishment of 2,000 Chairs across the country.

“We welcome these new investigators from prestigious institutions, and are especially pleased to attract some eminent researchers back to Canada,” says Lorne Whitehead, UBC Vice-president, Academic. “All our Chairs compete for these positions with the world’s best — the scope and depth of their expertise will contribute greatly to both the university and the country.”

Susan Murch returns to Canada from the National Tropical Botanical Gardens in Hawaii. She will join UBC Okanagan as Canada Research Chair in Natural Products Chemistry. An expert in plant chemicals that affect brain function, Murch studies both medicinal plants and neurotoxins. Her work will contribute to new therapies for illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Mira Sundara Rajan comes to UBC from University of London, U.K., and is an expert in copyright and intellectual property (IP) law reform. As Canada Research Chair in Intellectual Property Law, she will seek solutions to the international controversy surrounding IP and promote the idea that IP laws must reflect diversity of cultures, interest and industries.

Other Canada Research Chair appointments include: (in alphabetical order)

Arnaud Doucet from Cambridge University, U.K. is CRC in Stochastic Computation. He will use the power of sophisticated computers to solve statistical and probability questions previously deemed insolvable.

Adam Frankel , CRC in Drug Discovery, comes to UBC from the California Institute of Technology. An expert in protein manufacture and function, his work will help identify potential drug therapies to combat blood-clotting disorders.

Leonard Foster returns to B.C. from the University of Southern Denmark to study interactions between microbial pathogens and the immune system. As CRC in Organellar Proteomics, he will help scientists better understand and treat bacterial diseases such as tuberculosis and typhoid fever.

Murdoch McAllister returns to Canada from Imperial College in London, England, is CRC in Fisheries Assessment and Statistics. He will develop better statistical models to help manage fish stocks and guide fish management policies.

Edward Slingerland , CRC in Chinese Thought and Embodied Cognition, comes to UBC from the University of Southern California. He will investigate how the relationship between body and culture in early China can illuminate our understanding of other cultures and serve as a tool for intercultural dialogue.

Jessica Wang is from the University of California at Los Angeles. As CRC in U.S. History, she will focus on the role of science and technology in shaping public policy in the first half of the 20 th century.

In addition, Elizabeth Simpson, CRC in Genetics and Behaviour and Mark Vessey, CRC in Literature / Christianity and Culture have had their positions renewed for an additional five years.

Chair appointments provide research and salary support for either seven- or five-year terms. The seven-year terms are renewable; the five-year terms can be renewed once.

The CFI is an independent corporation established by the Government of Canada in 1997 to strengthen research capacity at Canadian universities, colleges, research hospitals and other not-for-profit institutions

For more information on Canada Research Chairs, visit www.chairs.gc.ca.