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Vital Signs
* Research

Engineering to Partner
with Private Firm

Exploring M-commerce

Gift will Revolutionize Oil
and Gas Exploration

Inco Innovation Centre

Initiative in the Arctic

Canada Research Chair in
Aboriginal Studies

Researchers Sign Deal
with Tech Powerhouse

Navigating Future

Partnership Facility
Opened on Campus

Petro-Canada Funds New
Music Facility

Survival of the Littlest

New Research Talent

President's Award for
Outstanding Research

University Research

Publishing Successes

Campus Life
Honour Roll

Research Highlights

Geographers to participate in ArcticNet

Four Memorial University researchers participated this year in ArcticNet, the latest National Centre of Excellence (NCE) announced by the Government of Canada. Alan Rock, minister of Industry and minister responsible for the Networks of Centres of Excellence, announced the funding – $25.7 million over the next four years. Drs. Trevor Bell, Norm Catto, David Edinger and Donald Forbes of Memorial’s Department of Geography, will participate in the NCE, which will connect experts from the natural, medical and social sciences. The Memorial scientists, four among some 90 who will work on the project, will carry out multi-disciplinary cross-sector studies in the high Arctic where negative and positive impacts of climate warming will be felt first and most severely.

Documentary on genetic research

Bloodlines: The DNA Dilemma, a one-hour documentary that aired on September 20, 2003, explored the complex legal and ethical issues associated with genetic research and commercial science. The documentary compares Newfoundland with Iceland, a country that put its genes on the commercial market in 1998 when the Icelandic government leased the population’s medical records to the multinational corporation deCode Genetics. The documentary also includes a look at some of the genetics research and clinical services offered at Memorial University. Newfoundland has long been recognized as a geneticist’s paradise with its homogenous population and large families. Companies from around the world are investing research in the island’s genes and Bloodlines tells the human story of the benefits of gene hunting while examining the enormous potential for abuse. The film is produced by Annette Clarke, Ruby Line Productions, in association with CTV. It is directed by Wendy Rowland and narrated by Canadian social activist Shirley Douglas.

SSHRC grants thousands to grad students

Twenty Memorial University graduate students shared in over $600,000 from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for research projects under SSHRC’s first-ever Canada Graduate Scholarships. Allan Rock, minister of industry and minister responsible for SSHRC, and Dr. Marc Renaud, president of SSHRC, announced the recipients of 1,500 scholarships and fellowships for graduate students in the social sciences and humanities from universities across Canada on September 25, 2003. “These students will be well-placed to seize the opportunities presented by the new economy.” Dr. Christopher Loomis, vice-president (research) at Memorial said, “Graduate students are producing some of the most exciting and innovative research at our institution, as well evidenced by the recipients of the new CGS program.”

Knowledge-based economy conference

Memorial University of Newfoundland hosted a conference on the knowledge-based economy featuring top economists and policy-makers from all over the globe on October 3-5, 2003. The conference, titled The Knowledge-Based Economy and Regional Economic Development: An International Perspective, focused on the shift of much of the world's economy to a knowledge-based economy and its particular importance to the development of the economies of rural, dispersed populations, including those of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Uncovering high lead levels in St. John’s soil

{Dr. Trevor Bell}
Dr. Trevor Bell

An interim report on a study conducted during the summer of 2003 to investigate the levels and sources of lead and other metals in St. John’s urban environment was released by researchers in Memorial’s Department of Geography in the fall of 2003. Dr. Trevor Bell, project leader, said the research project was conceived after reading the results of an earlier study on lake sediment chemistry in St. John’s. The earlier study suggested that with 100 years of coal combustion and 40 years of leaded gasoline use, the city’s soils may have become a large reservoir of potentially toxic metals.

With owners’ permission, soil samples were taken at a number of locations in St. John’s. The conclusion from these samples indicate that values in St. John’s range from 17 to 7048 parts per million, with a median value of 203. The CCME guideline, as adopted by the provincial Department of the Environment for soil-lead, is 140. A total of 140 samples or 60 per cent exceeded this guideline. Dr. Bell noted that, “These preliminary findings are based on a small, targeted sampling program that is insufficient for a rigorous statistical analysis.” The results, however, do suggest that a more comprehensive and statistically reliable survey is warranted. The chief medical officer for health and community services in St. John's, Mr. David Allison, said he did not find the results of the pilot study alarming. But he added parents should take some precautions to ensure their children wash their hands often, and do not play in contaminated soil.

Partnering for occupational health and safety

Nearly three years ago the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) granted $2.1 million over five years for a multidisciplinary research program known as SafetyNet, based at Memorial to study and identify ways to promote marine and coastal health and safety. A conference held October 30-November 1, 2003 in St. John’s showed just how far that money has already gone in producing solid results and leveraging more funding for further research. From Research to Practice: Partnering for Occupational Health and Safety included presentations on occupational asthma in snow crab processing workers, research partnerships for occupational health and safety, community research alliances, extreme working conditions, safety at sea, and working in the cold. A keynote address by Dr. John Frank, the scientific director for CIHR’s Institute for Population and Public Health, presented some striking data on how working conditions affect people’s health both directly and indirectly.

Newfoundland Studies celebrates two decades

Twenty years in existence, the journal Newfoundland Studies is continuing to evolve. With a new editor, assistant editor, chairman of the board, board members and external advisory committee, Newfoundland Studies is reorganizing in a big way. “We have taken very deliberate steps in the past year to reconfigure everything regarding Newfoundland Studies while still maintaining its original goals,” said Dr. Ronald Rompkey, chairman of the journal’s editorial committee and English Department faculty member. “The idea is to give Newfoundland Studies a fresh look, some new ideas and some new readers.” The purpose of the interdisciplinary journal is to represent the culture, history, folklore, heritage and politics of Newfoundland and Labrador. The editorial committee is working to ensure future numbers will include an array of articles from various disciplines, a notes and comments section, increased illustrations and articles of broad interest related to contemporary issues of debate.

Test facilities expanding

ACOA has contributed $400,000 towards the expansion and development of offshore oil and gas structural testing facilities at Memorial University of Newfoundland. The announcement was made October 30, 2003 by Gerry Byrne, minister of state for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and Newfoundland and Labrador’s representative in the Federal Cabinet. “AOCA’s investment in Memorial’s research infrastructure is important to the future growth of our province’s oil and gas industry,” he said. “This expansion project will allow researchers and engineers to conduct tests under conditions that more closely mimic the rigors of our unique offshore environment. This in turn will allow them to develop materials and structures that meet industry needs.” “Memorial University already has some of the best structural test equipment available anywhere,” said Dr. Axel Meisen, president and vice-chancellor at Memorial. “This project will allow us to further improve our research capabilities, enabling us to develop innovative designs of structures that are better suited to the harsh environment experienced by our province’s offshore oil and gas operations.”

The Structural Test Facility is a three-pronged project of the Ocean Engineering Research Centre (OERC) in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. OERC will design and construct a structural test frame that will enable researchers to test load levels on marine structures at pressures several times larger than current capacity. As well, improvements to the material testing capabilities of the cold room will allow researchers to investigate the impact of high-pressure ice zones on material strength, a capability that will be unique in Canada. The third component of the project will entail the implementation of a high-speed data/video link to the C-Core’s Centrifuge, allowing researchers to view the facility virtually and in real-time. Funding is being provided through the non-commercial component of ACOA’s Business Development Program, which supports the promotion of entrepreneurship, trade, marketing and education through industry, community, youth and business associations.

Policy centre to study fixed link

Memorial’s Public Policy Research Centre will conduct an independent examination of the economic and technical implications and viability of constructing a fixed link across the Strait of Belle Isle between Labrador and the Island of Newfoundland. “The pre-feasibility study will look at a number of existing data and in particular the engineering information that's been compiled up to this point in time,” said David Vardy, interim director of the centre. “It will review previous studies and it will assemble all of the geo-technical data that is available, within Hydro, government and university circles. The study will cost a total of $351,674, with a contribution of $281,339 from ACOA and $70,335 from the province.

Memorial hosted three Fulbright scholars

Memorial University figured prominently in this year’s cohort of Canada-U.S. Fulbright scholars. Three American recipients of the prestigious Canada-U.S. Fulbright award selected Memorial University of Newfoundland as their host institution in 2003. Long regarded as the world's premiere academic exchange program, the Fulbright Program attracts exceptional scholars from more than 150 countries worldwide. Among the fastest-growing of the bilateral exchanges is the Canada-US Fulbright Program, which offers a unique opportunity for Canadian and American scholars to forge new linkages and foster mutual understanding between the two countries. “The Canada-U.S. Fulbright awards offer a unique opportunity to undertake important research relevant to both Canada and the United States and allows for exchange between scholars with the highest standards of academic excellence,” said Dr. Axel Meisen, president of Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Health research success

Seven Memorial University researchers were successful in the most recent competition of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). Dr. John Brosnan, University Research Professor, will receive $137,950 per year operating grant over five years with a $3,949 equipment grant, for his work on amino acid metabolism. Dr. Michiru Hirasawa, Basic Medical Sciences, was awarded an annual operating grant of $54,810 over three years and a $52,659 equipment grant for her research on central control of energy homeostatis. Dr. Thomas Michalak, Senior Canada Research Chair in Viral Hepatitis/Immunology, was awarded an annual operating grant of $131,173 over five years for his work on hepadnavirus pathogenicity in woodchuck model of hepatitis B. Dr. Proton Rahman, Rheumatology, with Dr. Dafna Gladman of the University of Toronto, will receive $106,062 annually over three years for their work on the genetics of psoriatic arthritis. Dr. Terry-Lynn Young, Genetics, was awarded $86,644 annually over three years for research on genetics of deafness and hearing loss in the Newfoundland population. Dr. Michael Grant, Immunology, was awarded operating funding of $90,733 over three years for research on the impact of human immunodeficiency virus type-1 infection on the immune response against hepatitis C virus. This funding is under the operating competition of the Health Canada/CIHR Research Initiative on Hepatitis C. Dr. Guang Sun, Genetics, received equipment funding of $40,493 for the purchase of a bioanalyzer that uses lab-on-a-chip technology to provide analysis of DNA, RNA, proteins and cells. In addition, his grant also includes $19,633 per year for three years to cover services for several large pieces of equipment to support ongoing genetic studies on obesity in the Newfoundland population in his lab.

Memorial teaming up with fish farmers

Memorial University’s role in the province’s burgeoning aquaculture industry was one of the subjects on the agenda of a recent conference organized by the Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association. Memorial’s Ocean Sciences Centre (OSC) in Logy Bay recently received an Atlantic Foundation for Innovation grant of over $4-million to provide essential research to enhance the establishment of a commercial Atlantic cod aquaculture industry in Newfoundland and to assist in the continued development of the Atlantic halibut aquaculture industry in Atlantic Canada. The total cost of the project is over $12 million. One of these projects involves a cod farm project in Bay d’Espoir. Hatchery production and research will take place at the Aquaculture Research and Development Facility of the OSC while on-growing will take place at the demonstration site in Bay d’Espoir on Newfoundland’s south coast. The OSC is working closely with its industry partners to perform practical, timely and pertinent research to develop an economically viable aquaculture industry. This project is a cooperative effort between the OSC and industry partners including Newfoundland Aqua Ventures Inc., North Atlantic Sea Farms, Long Island Resources Ltd., Vinland Aqua-Farms Ltd. and the Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association. A management board consisting of government, academia and private sector representatives will oversee all project activities. The project, with total costs of $12,374,250 will receive $4,100,000 from the Atlantic Innovation Fund over a five-year period, in addition to funding from other public and private sources, including the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

Campus Incubation Consortium: Supporting Entrepreneurship at Memorial

The growth of technology clusters in San Diego, Ottawa and Boston have largely been based on entrepreneurial employees spinning off new ventures from a few large technology companies. In Newfoundland and Labrador, there is a lack of large technology companies and, therefore, the university community is being used as a stimulus for this type of organization. Similar to a large technology company, the university is a hotbed of research activity and is populated by highly qualified young people. Memorial has initiated a program aimed at motivating and supporting students and faculty to exploit entrepreneurial opportunities. The Campus Incubation Consortium, is comprised of the GENESIS Group, the Gateway Initiative of the Faculty of Business Administration, the National Research Council’s incubation facility resident in the Institute for Ocean Technology located on Memorial’s St. John’s campus and the new INCO Innovation Centre scheduled to open in 2005. This coordinated initiative provides the full spectrum of support needed by new entrepreneurial start-ups.

The process is paying benefits as a significant increase in entrepreneurial activity is already evident. Eight new companies have been established by engineering and business students and by researchers from the School of Pharmacy. These companies are developing products with global market potential in areas such as anti-money laundering software, industrial asset management systems using radio-frequency identification tags and pharmaceutically approved intravenous supplements. Ocean technology applications ranging from energy balancing on vessels to safer lifeboat deployment systems, from environmentally-friendly trawl doors to satellite phones incorporating global positioning systems, are all being supported by the consortium and are feeding the ocean technology cluster that is emerging in Newfoundland.

National honour for chemistry prof

Advancements in the hi-tech sector have often focused on creating technologies that are faster, smaller and more efficient than those in current use. Some argue that miniaturization, the conventional approach of taking existing technology and making it smaller and smaller, is at its limit. New and innovative ways of increasing capability and decreasing size of items in areas such as the computer industry require visionaries in other fields. Dr. Laurence Thompson, university research professor in the Department of Chemistry, is using his knowledge in the area of inorganic coordination chemistry to shift how these technologies are envisioned and created. In recognition of his research contributions over the last 25 years, Dr. Thompson has been honoured with the Alcan Lecture Award for 2004. Dr. Thompson received this prestigious award at the Canadian Society for Chemistry’s annual conference, which took place at the University of Western Ontario, in June 2004. Dr. Thompson’s work revolves around a process called supramolecular self-assembly, a process by which larger molecules build themselves.

Aldrich conference highlights grad research

Every February, the Graduate Students’ Union and the School of Graduate Studies host the Aldrich Interdisciplinary Lecture and Conference. This conference is a great opportunity for graduate students from all disciplines to showcase their work and to gain valuable presentation experience. This year’s event went ahead February 23-24, 2003 and included the Aldrich Lecture, delivered by Dr. Marc Renaud, president of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). The conference consisted of a series of 15-20 minute presentations (followed by 5-10 minutes of questions) covering a range of topics within the various disciplines.

CFI boosts research at Memorial

Memorial University researchers will lead an elite group of major players in computation-based research in Canada with the announcement of $9.9 million for an Atlantic Canadian high performance computing (HPC) network. The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) awarded $9,934,611 to Memorial University to establish ACEnet, the Atlantic Computational Excellence Network (ACEnet). Memorial is the lead institution for this network, with six partner institutions: St. Francis Xavier University, Saint Mary’s University, the University of New Brunswick, Mount Allison University, the University of Prince Edward Island and Dalhousie University.

In addition to the ACEnet award, CFI awarded $531,988 to Memorial researchers for a QStar tandem mass spectrometer for the analysis of molecular structures and interactions. This machine will profoundly enhance the research capabilities of Memorial University's researchers to perform innovative research, which will impact the health, welfare, economic development and quality of life of Canadians and the global population.

Efford announces funding for health research

At a press conference March 5, 2004 John Efford, minister of natural resources, on behalf of Pierre Pettigrew, minister of health, announced funding of over $2.1 million for health research in Newfoundland. Minister Efford made the announcement in the laboratory of molecular geneticist Dr. Terry Lynn Young in Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine. Carolyn Bennett, minister of state (public health), joined Mr. Efford in announcing operating funding for Memorial researchers Dr. Sean Brosnan, Dr. Proton Rahman, Dr. Michiru Hirasawa and Dr. Thomas Michalak, as well as Dr. Young.

Newest Canada Research Chair to Focus on aboriginal rights

Dr. David Natcher was appointed Memorial University’s Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal Studies at an announcement made April 5, 2004 by Lucienne Robillard, federal minister of Industry and minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec. Some $138.3 million in funding was approved for 137 new Canada Research Chairs. In his research, Dr. Natcher will be exploring alternative models of community development that take into account not only the region’s commercial development versus the subsistence needs of its aboriginal peoples, but also other human factors such as aboriginal health, nutritional status, educational achievement, access to desired resources, and aboriginal rights. His work will involve policy analysis as well as ethnographic and community-based research and his research findings will be used to inform public policy, and promote efficiency in the use of public resources. Given the economic necessities of resource development, coupled with the ever-changing political landscape of aboriginal rights, Dr. Natcher’s research will provide a critical and informed analysis of these two areas of public concern.

Modeling climate change

The burning of fossil fuels and release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is having a significant effect on the global climate. Dr. Richard Rivkin, a professor at Memorial’s Ocean Sciences Centre, is concerned with the interactions between the upper ocean and the lower atmosphere as it relates to climate warming. One area of his research, carried out as part of an international research team, was recently published in the journal Nature. Dr. Rivkin’s project focused on the response of the planktonic community to a large-scale iron enrichment of the ocean surface in the eastern Subarctic Pacific. As part of the study, iron was added along with an inert tracer (SF6) to an eight-kilometre-square patch of ocean and the chemistry and biology of the upper ocean was characterized within the iron-enriched patch for 30 days. Other members of the research team, including Dr. Moire Wadleigh from the Department of Earth Sciences, studied the atmospheric conditions above and surrounding the patch. Dr. Rivkin’s team observed phytoplankton growth for the first 15 days in response to the addition of iron. However, unlike previous studies, phytoplankton became limited by the supply of silicon and their biomass in the surface declined and was rapidly re-mineralized back to carbon dioxide near the ocean surface.

MUN creates Centre of Regional Development Studies to respond to regional development needs

Memorial University’s newly established Centre of Regional Development Studies (CORDS) will co-ordinate and facilitate the university's educational, research, and outreach activities in the area of rural and regional development. Approved by Memorial’s Board of Regents in October 2003, CORDS’ mandate includes the development of academic programs relating to regional development, such as developing training programs targeting the province's growth sectors, which could be delivered at Memorial's Grenfell College and St. John's campuses, or through distance education. CORDS will also take a role in matching the needs for research with graduate programs and research centres and play a co-ordinating and informational role for the university’s many outreach activities including the development of work term opportunities in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. The centre will facilitate partnerships within the university and with other organizations and identify funding from external agencies to support these activities. It will encourage and advocate research in key areas including tourism development, regional labour market development, new fisheries, small-scale manufacturing and transportation. CORDS will also act as a broker to link Memorial’s capacity for outreach with the community. Dr. Robert Greenwood has been appointed director for CORDS.

Not such a cold fish after all

Dr. Garth Fletcher, professor emeritus at the Ocean Sciences Centre, has been working with his colleague, Dr. Peter Davies, Queen’s University, for over 30 years on antifreeze proteins in fish. A number of marine fish produce antifreeze proteins to protect themselves from freezing in a sub-zero, ice-laden marine environment. “The research we are carrying out focuses on these antifreeze proteins, their physiological regulation, mechanisms of action, diversity, evolution and potential economic value in the field of biotechnology,” said Dr. Fletcher. Drs. Fletcher and Davies’ collaboration with graduate student Christopher Marshall, Queen’s University on the winter flounder was recently published in Nature magazine. “The winter flounder can survive in polar oceans at temperatures as low as minus 1.9 degrees Celsius, the freezing point of seawater,” said Dr. Fletcher. How the flounder does this is a mystery. “The fish only seemed to have enough ‘antifreeze’ protection to cater for temperatures down to minus 1.5 degrees Celsius.” The solution to the mystery is a newly identified antifreeze protein present in the fish's blood that has a remarkable protective capacity. “It was there all along, but we missed it and it took 30 years to find it.”

Focus on major research partnerships

Memorial’s Board of Regents approved the new position of director of major research partnerships at its meeting on April 8. Dr. James Wright, former head of the Department of Earth Sciences, was appointed to the position on a three-year contract. “Memorial has experienced major growth in research, climbing to over $70 million this year,” said Dr. Christopher Loomis, vice-president (research). “During this time, our research projects have become more complex, multi-disciplinary, inter-institutional and inter-sectoral in scope. Granting agencies also require more detailed accountability as a condition of funding. Dr. Wright will assume administrative leadership for major research partnerships including the Pan-Petroleum Systems Consortium (PPSC), the Centre for Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and the Inco Innovation Centre (IIC) and will help to identify emerging opportunities and facilitate the establishment of new research partnerships in strategic sectors.” Reporting directly to the vice-president (research), Dr. Wright will also oversee the submission of all financial claims and progress reports, serve as the university’s primary contact person for PPSC, CNG and IIC and work closely with the Genesis Centre and other similar organizations in Atlantic Canada to ensure the successful commercialization of technologies, products and services arising from research partnerships.

CFI Funds Four Researchers

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) will invest $463,754 in support of four newly recruited faculty members at Memorial. “This is welcome news not only for researchers and students at Memorial University, but also for Canada’s research community,” said Dr. Christopher Loomis, Memorial’s vice-president (research). “CFI funding continues to help Memorial acquire world-class infrastructure, furthering our growth and reputation in research.” The four projects to receive funding from CFI are: Dr. Janet Brunton, Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science, was awarded $71,774 for infrastructure to study amino acid requirements of infants and children in states of health and intestinal injury; Dr. Michiru Hirasawa, Faculty of Medicine, was awarded $133,931 by CFI for cellular electrophysiology and photostimulation system for investigation of central mechanism of body weight control; Dr. Yvan Rose, Department of Linguistics, Faculty of Arts, was awarded $49,892 for speech sciences and language acquisition laboratory; Dr. Terry-Lynn Young, Faculty of Medicine, was awarded $208,157 for a state-of-the-art gene discovery research laboratory for Newfoundland and Labrador. Total investments, approved by the CFI Board of Directors on June 15, 2004, to support 124 projects involving 140 researchers at 40 research institutions have been awarded through two funds: $18.3 million under the New Opportunities Fund (NOF); and $5.5 million under the Infrastructure Operating Fund (IOF). A complete list of New Opportunities Fund projects, by university, can be found at: www.innovation.ca.

Maximizing research investments

Memorial’s Board of Regents has approved the creation of a new pan-university network, the Core Research Equipment and Instrument Training Network (CREAIT Network). “The CREAIT Network will help maximize the impact of our institutional investments in research and avoid unnecessary duplication. It will enhance access to and utilization of major research equipment, and provide for regular equipment maintenance to better meet the needs of our growing research community. The network will also provide Memorial with a unique advantage in national funding competitions, and enhance our competitiveness in recruiting new faculty and graduate students.” The CREAIT Network will eventually consist of five or six inter-connected satellites across the St. John’s campus. Each satellite will be organized by theme, for example Genomics and Proteomics, and be responsible for maintaining and operating clusters of multi-user equipment as well as training faculty and graduate students in their use. The network will also facilitate access by private sector users on a full cost-recovery basis, and promote the development of new research partnerships.

NSERC awards over $5 million to MUN

The number of NSERC Discovery Grant holders at Memorial continues to grow as a result of the latest NSERC Research Grants Competition. Nearly $4.3 million has been distributed at Memorial in the 2004-05 fiscal year, including 163 new and continuing Discovery Grant holders, with an additional $778,973 provided in support of eight Research Tools and Instruments grants, and ongoing installments for three Major Facility Access Grants, bringing the total funding of $5,076,661 from NSERC this fiscal year. Noser’s Discovery Grants Program, which now normally provides five years of support before reapplication, is an important source of funding for research in the natural sciences and engineering. For some researchers, these grants represent the sole source of support for their programs of research, while for others it provides a core of funding, which is supplemented by support from other sources.

Each year, thousands of professors from post-secondary institutions across Canada apply to NSERC for research and equipment grants. The professors dedicate a large portion of their grant funds to training the next generation of Canadian undergraduates, postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers. The funding announced June 8, 2004 injected $15.5 million into the Discovery Grants budget for new researchers. NSERC also allocated $24.8 million for our Research Tools and Instruments competition, which resulted in a 29 per cent funding rate. This year, Memorial researchers achieved a 40 per cent success rate on applications submitted under the Research Tools and Instruments category and a grant renewal rate in excess of 90 per cent in the Discovery Grants competition. In addition, 13 researchers received first time Discovery Grants in a variety of disciplines including chemistry, computer science, engineering, human kinetics, mathematics, medicine, ocean sciences, pharmacy and physics. A complete listing of all grants from the recent Discovery and RTI-1 competition can be found at: www.nserc.ca/programs/result/2004/rg/index_e.htm.

Building a better ecosystem model

With increasing pressure for a more ecological approach to marine fisheries and environmental management, there is a growing need to understand and predict changes in marine ecosystems. Dr. Brad de Young from Memorial’s Physics and Physical Oceanography has developed a strategy to help researchers design more effective models of the ocean environment. Dr. de Young, working with colleagues from Scotland, the U.S. and France, recently published the article, Challenges of Modeling Ocean Basin Ecosystems, in the June 4, 2004, issue of Science magazine. In the article, the researchers build upon recent advances in modeling and observations and develop a new modeling approach for coupling across trophic levels.

Genesis Centre Graduates Taking Off

In May 2004, iMIRADOR became the Genesis Centre's fourteenth graduate company, having secured $150,000 in private equity. The Genesis Centre is Memorial’s support network for technology-based ventures which have high growth potential, and are seeking business guidance and capital. iMIRADOR employs five people, and is commercializing an online public-record database for the real estate industry.

It is hoped that iMIRADOR will experience similar success to previous Genesis Centre graduate, Rutter Technologies. Rutter was the only Atlantic Canadian company named to Deloitte's 2004 Canadian Technology Fast 50, its list of fastest-growing Canadian technology companies. Rutter graduated from the Genesis Centre in 2001, went public in 2002, and has grown 2,000 percent in the past 36 months. Revenue in 2003 was $19.7 million, and reached over $52 million in the first nine months of fiscal 2004. The company now employs 460 people, providing marine products to improve the efficiency and safety of maritime operations. Rutter also won a Canadian Export Award in 2003 for growth in international sales of its Voyage Data Recorders. In the same year it was named the 2003 Exporter of the Year by the then provincial Department of Industry, Trade and Rural Development. In 2003, another Genesis Centre graduate, Genoa Design International Ltd., was named a finalist for the same award.

Graduate Chris Griffiths of Garrison Guitars received a 2003 Manning Award for Innovation. This national award is worth $25,000, and was given to Chris for his development of the Griffiths Active Bracing System.

In January, current client Aurum Acoustics exhibited their prototype high-end audio system at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show to rave reviews. Industry reviewers made comments such as, "slam dunk squared", "a great idea beautifully realized", "this Newfoundland company is offering something totally different from anyone else" and "the firm [deserves] broader recognition...just for concept and execution alone".

Genesis Centre Building Licenses and Collaborations

The GENESIS Group actively markets to industry the scientific expertise of the University and the discoveries and technologies that arise from the research conducted at Memorial. In the past year, GENESIS licensed to the British Technology Group (BTG) a novel radio-imaging probe which can identify plaque in arteries, a precursor to heart disease. The new process eliminates a highly invasive and expensive medical procedure replacing it with a simple CAT scan process. The deal involved an upfront cash payment and a royalty on future sales.

GENESIS has also negotiated a strategic alliance with Xenon Pharmaceuticals located in British Columbia. The deal included a $250,000 collaborative research program as well as milestone payments and future royalties. During the year the collaboration resulted in the identification of the gene responsible for Hereditary Sensory Neuropathy (HSN) disease and triggered a milestone payment to Memorial.

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