UBC Nets $8.2 Million for Research Brain Gains

University of British Columbia researchers whose studies range from the health of health providers to analyses of Latin poetry have gained $8.2 million in federal funding from the Canada Research Chairs program, it was announced today.

The UBC positions, comprising seven new and four re-appointed chairs, are among 121 federally funded research positions, representing a total investment of more than $79.4 million distributed to universities, research institutes and hospital across Canada today.
“To attract and retain these outstanding researchers in a globally competitive environment reinforces UBC’s position as one of the top 40 of the world’s best universities,” says George Mackie, acting UBC Vice-president, Academic.

UBC has now appointed 145 of the 166 positions allocated to the university since the program’s inception in 1997. The federally funded research program is designed to build Canada’s research capacity by attracting and retaining the world’s best researchers, and invests $300 million annually to appoint 2,000 investigators by 2008.

New Chairs include:

Lara Boyd, from the University of Kansas Medical Center, is the Canada Research Chair in Neurobiology of Motor Learning. She will use functional magnetic resonance imaging to map the relationship between brain behaviour and function, to create new therapies for individuals with stroke. Boyd will be based at GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre and is a member of Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute (VCHRI).

Susanna Braund, from Stanford University, is the Canada Research Chair in Latin Poetry and its Reception. She will explore the appeal of classical poetry through the centuries and study how translations of classical texts illuminate the eras which produce them.

Kai Chan, returning to Canada from Stanford University, is the Canada Research Chair in Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. He will examine
the phenomenon of species superabundance — such as overpopulation of mountain pine beetle — and study factors that promote resistance to biological invasions and infestations to better manage ecosystems.

As Canada Research Chair in Preventive Medicine and Population Health, Erica Frank, from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, will study the relationship between healthy doctors and healthy patients by examining and promoting personal health habits of health providers to foster the practice of preventive medicine.

Joseph Henrich, also from Emory University, is the Canada Research Chair in Culture, Cognition and Coevolution. He will examine how culture evolves and is transmitted and use this information to help explain the differing degrees of economic success and social integration of various immigrant populations.

Frank Ko, from Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is the Canada Research Chair in Advanced Fibrous Materials and an expert in nanoscale fibres – the fundamental building blocks of living systems. He will synthesize and test various nanofibrous materials that can be used in applications ranging from biomedical implants to fuel cells. 

Jeremy Seamans, who returns to Canada from the Medical University of South Carolina, is the Canada Research Chair in Neurobiology of Mental Health and Addiction. He studies the prefrontal cortex – the brain region implicated in complex mental activity, personality and behaviour – at a cellular level. His work will help develop therapies to treat disorders such as schizophrenia, depression and addiction. Seamans will be based at the Brain Research Centre at UBC Hospital and the UBC Institute of Mental Health and is a member of Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute.

Food market economist Tim Beatty; atmospheric chemist Allan Bertram; computer graphics and animation scientist Michiel van de Panne and biomaterials engineer Rihzi Wang have had their appointments renewed for five years.

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

VCHRI is the research body of Vancouver Coastal Health Authority.

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

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