Charting research progress
University president, Dr. Axel Meisen, launched the university's new Research Report 2002-03 in his address to convocation in May 2003. The annual report highlights the university's major research accomplishments and notes the research activities of faculty, staff and students. This year external funding in support of research at Memorial University totalled more than $48 million, a 12 per cent increase over the previous year, and a trend that is expected to continue. Memorial also saw its allocation of Canada Research Chairs increase from 22 to 25 as a result of growth in research funding. The full report is available at www.mun.ca/research/2003report/
GENESIS Group boosts local bio-tech
Last June, two Newfoundland biotechnology companies reported excellent results at BIO 2003, the world's largest conference and exhibition of biotechnology, held in Washington, D.C. The GENESIS Group, the technology commercialization arm of Memorial University, signed a significant licensing deal with BTG International, a multi-million dollar organization with operations in Europe and the USA. School of Pharmacy researchers, Dr. Hu Liu, Dr. Lili Wang and Wu Xiao have developed a new radio-imaging probe designed to identify plaque lesions associated with atherosclerosis. Aqua Bounty Farms Inc., another GENESIS company, signed a venture deal at BIO 2003, which will inject new capital valued at several million Canadian dollars into the company. Aqua Bounty's lead product, a rapidly-growing Atlantic salmon that reaches harvest size twice as quickly as conventionally farmed fish, is already under regulatory review at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Breathing new life into pulmonary disease
Memorial geneticist Dr. Bridget Fernandez and her team studying familial pulmonary fibrosis have identified six Newfoundland families affected by disease which is highly prevalent in Newfoundland. The disease, which is fatal without a lung transplant, drew the attention of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania after Newfoundlander Craig Dobbin had a single lung transplant at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital six years ago. He then arranged in June for three researchers from the University of Pennsylvania to meet at Memorial with Dr. Fernandez's team to discuss ongoing cases and further collaboration.
We're on the map - the MMAP
MMAP is the Centre for the Study of Music, Media and Place, a brainchild of the School's new Canada Research Chair in Ethnomusicology, Dr Beverley Diamond who joined the School last fall. The centre's official mandate is to "explore traditional and local music practices in the context of modern, globalized networks of communication." MMAP has already demonstrated the tremendous range of its purview: a lively lecture series across 2002 - 2003 brought researchers of international distinction to MUN, it hosted a lively day-long symposium, "Who Owns Traditional Music?" , explored one of music's fundamental questions. Housed in the Arts and Culture Centre Annex, MMAP has an ambitious future of research and preservation of music traditions.
Rituals of remembrance
Prof. Barb Hunt and Dr. Ivan Emke were in England last September to give an illustrated presentation on rituals of remembrance and its links to death's material culture at the 6th international conference on the Social Context of Death, Dying and Disposal at the University of York. Using images from art, history folklore and funeral service publications and local rural graveyards, Attention Must be Paid focused on Newfoundland's cultural traditions which have seen a shift away from unique traditions of remembrance in more recent years toward the acceptance of more homogenous professionalized North American funeral practices. The presentation prompted questions about the ways that objects facilitate remembrance and grieving, both in the past and in the present.
Inco to fund new research project
Faculty in the Department of Earth Sciences has been very busy working on a new research project funded by Inco, the mining leader that is developing a large nickel deposit located at Voisey's Bay Labrador. The project involves characterizing the distribution of metals from the Voisey's Bay deposit. Under the direction of principal investigators Dr. Paul Sylvester and Dr. Derek Wilton, Memorial will work closely with Voisey's Bay Nickel (VBN) Co. on bulk samples from the main sulphide ore body or Ovoid. The project is the initial stage of a larger plan under which Memorial University and Inco staff will work jointly to develop an understanding of the nickel-sulphide deposits in the area.
The skinny on fat
This year Dr. Guang Sun, who is looking at the genetic reason why overweight people seem to have trouble losing weight, was awarded a new three-year grant of over $142,000 per year from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) for his unique approach. This is the first large-scale genomic study funded by the CIHR in the province. His is currently doing two studies - one on adipose tissue in response to overfeeding in obese and non-obese subjects and another on skeletal muscles in obese and non-obese young males. He also received a $25,000 grant from Memorial University's Medical Research Foundation for his research on skeletal muscle.
Science honours top scholar
Dr. Michael Morrow, Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography was awarded the 2000-2001 Distinguished Scholar Medal by the Dean of the Faculty of Science last November. The award recognizes outstanding contributions that demonstrate a balanced approach to scholarly activities in teaching and research.
Building research collaborations
In February of last year, the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science hosted a research forum with colleagues from the National Research Council's Institute for Marine Dynamics (IMD) and Centre for Cold Ocean Resources Engineering (C-CORE).
Discussion focused on possibilities for increased collaborative research with an awareness of each organization's role in the larger technical community.
Over $600,000 awarded to Memorial
Dr. Christopher Loomis, vice-president (research), welcomed an investment of over $600,000 in funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). Memorial received $109,000 for an analytical X-ray facility for a materials science and engineering research project at the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and $499,999 was directed toward equipment in support of research on cellular signalling mechanisms in growth, development and disease at the Faculty of Medicine.
Health research showcased in Toronto
In March, Newfoundland Premier Roger Grimes and Memorial President Dr. Axel Meisen greeted Phillip Blake, president and CEO of Bayer Inc., at the Health Research Showcase hosted by the two in Toronto. An overview of the range of the province's expertise in health research was presented to invited members of the pharmaceutical industry to attract increased health related research funding to the province. The evening provided an opportunity to discuss potential research partnership opportunities with industry.
Research in motion
One hundred and fifty researchers at Memorial will receive over $4.6 million in support of their research from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) this year. This funding is provided under NSERC's discovery grants, research tools and instruments, and major facilities access programs. With a renewal rate in excess of 90 per cent and a particularly successful year for new applicants which saw 16 researchers receive first-time funds from NSERC, the results of this latest annual competition proved positive for Memorial. Sixteen new researchers, most of whom are new faculty members, were awarded their first NSERC discovery grants.
Dr. Dale Corbett, who holds a Senior Canada Research Chair in Stroke and Neuroplasticity, is using novel combinations of intensive rehabilitation, drug therapy and stem cells to enhance brain repair processes following stroke. His work on depression and stroke examines the possibility that antidepressant drugs and related compounds might have direct benefits on recovery by enhancing neuroplasticity processes. Dr. Corbett is examining the effects of antidepressants in animal models of stroke and studying the impact of antidepressants on recovery in stroke patients.
New online Research Directory
The Office of Research has launched an online and electronically searchable Research Directory holding records on 400 faculty researchers at the St. John's campus, the Marine Institute and the Sir Wilfred Grenfell College campus. Each entry typically provides name, rank, department or other academic unit, a list of keywords, a brief summary (in point form) of current, past, and potential research interests and specialized research equipment and facilities may also be listed. Though brief, the records are of considerable interest to students, media, the general public, other researchers, government officials and agencies, and business.