chairs for Memorial
home to two new Canada Research Chairs, federal Industry Minister
Brian Tobin announced recently. A chair in viral hepatitis/immunology
was awarded to Dr. Thomas Michalak, Faculty of Medicine, and
a chair in North Atlantic archaeology was awarded to Dr. Priscilla
Renouf, Archaeology Unit, Department of Anthropology. Both chairs
include $200,000 per year for salary and research support.
Memorial is currently searching for nine more Canada Research
Chairs positions. It is expected that over the five-year life
span of the CRC program, Memorial will be eligible for about
20 positions in the strategic areas of oceans and coastal studies,
industrial development and environmental sustainability, health
and North Atlantic/Newfoundland and Labrador studies.
The Canada Research Chairs program will help Memorial strengthen
its research programs and help us solve problems of major importance
to the citizens of our province and country. I have no doubt
that the investment by the Government of Canada in the Canada
Research Chairs program at Memorial University will be repaid
many times, said Dr. Axel Meisen, president of Memorial.
The Canada Research Chairs program will help us recruit
and retain outstanding academic leaders during a period of tremendous
international competition for faculty, said Dr. Christopher
Loomis, Memorials vice-president, research and international
relations. The two new chairs just announced are top-level
researchers and leading scholars in their academic fields.
The North Atlantic archaeology chair will enhance and build upon
existing links between the Archaeology Unit and other universities,
agencies and research groups. This chair involves site survey
and excavation of campsites and settlements of ancient hunting
and fishing peoples and reconstruction of past settlement patterns
and the past environment.
This research is important for understanding Newfoundlands
9,000-year history of human occupation, and placing that culturally
diverse prehistory in the context of a changing environment,
Dr. Renouf explained. More broadly, this research is important
nationally because it reconstructs part of the past of Canadas
indigenous peoples and tries to understand their strategies for
living and flourishing in a northern environment.
Dr. Renouf has been an active field archaeologist for many years,
working on sites in Port au Choix, on the Great Northern Peninsula.
The new Parks Canada museum at that national historic site is
based largely on her work. Her research was also an integral
part of the Newfoundland Museums Full Circle: First Contact
travelling exhibition, which tells the dynamic story of the first
European and native interchange on the coasts of Newfoundland
The viral hepatitis/immunology chair involves the immunological,
molecular and pathological aspects of both hepatitis B and hepatitis
My research will centre on understanding how the virus
induces liver disease, how it evades the immune system, and how
it establishes persistent infection, said Dr. Thomas Michalak.
Such knowledge will be used in the development of better
therapeutic strategies against hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
Dr. Michalak will establish a network of international collaborators
and interact with other researchers in the clinical divisions
within the Health Sciences Centre and with the Immunology and
Cancer Research Groups within the universitys Faculty of
Dr. Michalak has worked in the field of viral hepatitis for more
than 25 years, and has completed much groundbreaking work, including
the establishment of a large colony of Eastern American woodchucks
for the study of the woodchuck hepatitis virus, closely related
to the virus. The Canada Research Chair will enable Dr. Michalak
to continue to expand his research on antivirals and viral hepatitis,
and to collaborate with other researchers around the world on
the potential development of novel therapeutic strategies and
preventive vaccines against hepatitis B and C.
Research Chairs program
The Canada Research Chairs program was established by the Government
of Canada to enable Canadian universities to achieve the highest
levels of research excellence.
In its 2000 budget, the Government of Canada provided $900 million
to support the establishment of 2,000 Canada Research Chairs
in universities across the country by 2005. About 400 new chairs
will be named in each of the next five years. Recruitment will
be from both inside and outside Canada.
The key objective of the Canada Research Chairs Program is to
enable Canadian universities, together with their affiliated
research institutes and hospitals, to achieve the highest levels
of research excellence, to become world-class research centres
in the global, knowledge-based economy.
The secondary objectives of
the Canada Research Chairs program are to:
Strengthen research excellence in Canada and
increase Canadas research capacity by
attracting and retaining excellent researchers
in Canadian universities;
Strengthen the training of highly qualified personnel
Improve universities capacity for generating and
applying new knowledge;
Optimize the use of research resources through institutional
strategic planning, and inter-institutional
Chairs will be created in the natural sciences, engineering,
health sciences, social sciences and humanities. The programs
emphasis is on investment in basic and applied research at Canadas
There will be two types of chair:
Seven-year renewable chairs targeted at experienced researchers
who are acknowledged by their peers as world leaders
in their own fields;
Five-year chairs, renewable once, targeted at researchers
who are acknowledged by their peers as having
the potential to lead in their fields.
Appointment of the chairs is based on nominations from Canadian
universities. It takes place following thorough assessment by
members of the programs College of Reviewers and (where
necessary) Interdisciplinary Adjudication Committee. Both the
college and the adjudication committee are composed of many of
the worlds leading experts in disciplines being funded
through the chairs program.
The Canada Research Chairs program is governed by a steering
committee comprising the presidents of the Natural Sciences and
Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Canadian Institutes
of Health Research (CIHR), the Social Sciences and Humanities
Research Council (SSHRC) and the Canada Foundation for Innovation
(CFI), as well as the deputy minister of Industry Canada.