University of British Columbia research in areas ranging from Indigenous literature, to nanotechnology, to evolutionary biology received a boost today with the appointment and renewal of eight Canada Research Chairs.
The chairs – five new appointments and three renewals – are valued at $4.5 million. UBC holds the second largest complement of CRC allocations – 186 – at any university in the country.
“The Canada Research Chairs program has played an instrumental role in attracting the brightest minds in a wide range of disciplines to Canada – and just as importantly, keeping them here,” says John Hepburn, Vice President Research and International at UBC. “The scientific and societal impact of their investigations and discoveries are nothing less than extraordinary.”
UBC’s chairs are among 120 federally funded research positions awarded or renewed today, representing a total investment of $90.6 million distributed to 39 post-secondary institutions, research institutes and hospitals across Canada. Fourteen B.C.-based chairs were announced at UBC by Kerry-Lynne Findlay, Associate Minister of National Defence.
“Plants like sunflowers hold some of the most intriguing lines of scientific inquiries that have strong implications for both our understanding of evolution and increasing the world’s food supplies,” says Loren Rieseberg, a UBC professor of Botany and Canada Research Chair in Plant Evolutionary Genomics. “The CRC program has enabled me and other researchers to explore and contribute, right here from my home province of B.C.”
BACKGROUND | Eight CRCs appointed at UBC
The federally funded Canada Research Chair program was launched in 2000 to build Canada’s research capacity. An investment of $900 million supports the establishment of 2,000 Chairs at universities across the country. Learn more about the Canada Research Chairs program at: http://vpacademic.ubc.ca/canada-research-chairs/.
Newly appointed CRCs at UBC are:
Jeanette Armstrong, CRC in Okanagan Indigenous Knowledge and Philosophy, Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences, UBC’s Okanagan Campus
Prof. Armstrong’s Syilx Okanagan Research will document, categorize and analyze Syilx oral language literatures using unique community-based Syilx Okanagan methods of enquiry.
Gabriela Cohen Freue, CRC in Statistical Genomics, Faculty of Science
Prof. Freue’s research will offer computational approaches to finding genes and proteins that indicate the progression of a disease, also known as biomarkers. These biomarkers can then be used to develop new clinical tests to improve patient care and decrease costs in the Canadian health system.
Daniel Justice, CRC in Indigenous Literature and Expressive Culture, Faculty of Arts
Prof. Justice will explore some of the diverse ways that Indigenous writers, performers, artists, and culture workers express kinship and belonging. Through written text, establishment of a network of Indigenous artists of the Pacific and Pacific Rim and a local LGBT/two-spirit arts consortium, the research project will expand our understanding of these complex relationships.
Sheryl Lightfoot, CRC in Global Indigenous Rights and Politics, Faculty of Arts
Prof. Lightfoot’s research program features four interconnected projects which will shed light on how Indigenous political actors are negotiating rights claims with and within individual states and navigating the international system itself.
Carles Vilarino-Guell, CRC in Molecular Characterization of Neurological Diseases, Faculty of Medicine
Canada has one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis in the world. Prof. Vilarino-Guell’s research aims to implement the latest scientific technologies to define this disease at a molecular level, which will lead to a better understanding of the biology of the disease and new therapeutic avenues to better treat, halt and potentially cure MS.
Three CRC appointments have been renewed:
Loren Rieseberg, CRC in Plant Evolutionary Genomics, Faculty of Science
Prof. Rieseberg is developing genomic tools and resources for sunflower and related species in the Compositae family, the largest and ecologically most diverse family of flowering plants. Changes in genes and their expression will be linked to the evolution of domestication and weed traits, species differences, and habitat transitions, and to the evolutionary forces causing these changes.
Ken Harder, CRC in Laboratory for Host-pathogen and Tumour Biology
Faculty of Science
Prof. Harder’s research is focused on identifying genes and regulatory pathways governing key components of our immune system in order to better understand and control disease by using models of lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, breast cancer and colitis-associated cancer.
Kenichi Takahata, CRC in Advanced Micro/Nanofabrication and MEMS, Faculty of Applied Science
Prof. Takahata will study medical micro-devices for intelligent implants and microsurgical applications to enable minimally invasive diagnosis and therapy. Targeted devices include adaptive stents and stent grafts, brain aneurysm wireless sensors, and devices for MRI guided surgery.