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$10.1 million in federal funds for research at Memorial

AIF funding recipients at a news conference at the Marine Institute on March 14. The event was hosted by Dr. Gary Kachanoski, president and vice-chancellor.

By Meaghan Whelan

Projects that investigate sudden cardiac death, technology to improve the offshore industry and technology to improve crab meat processing are benefiting from a combined $10.1 million investment from the Atlantic Canada Opportunity Agency through the Atlantic Innovation Fund.

Of the six recipients selected for AIF funding in Newfoundland and Labrador, four of the projects are based at Memorial (one at the Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation (CCFI) at the Fisheries and Marine Institute, two in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, and one in the Faculty of Medicine).

In the Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Terry-Lynn Young will lead an international team of cardiologists and cardiology research groups in the United Kingdom and Canada to discover and validate more genes and genetic mutations linked to sudden cardiac death (SCD). Initially believed to be unique to the Newfoundland population, collaboration with international heart research institutes is uncovering new evidence of the gene and lethal mutations in other populations – a much larger “super family” genetic connection to SCD. This project has the potential to save many thousands of lives, particularly younger people (under 40 years) who unknowingly carry a gene linked to SCD. This project, with a total estimated cost of $5 million, will receive approximately $3 million from the Atlantic Innovation Fund

Two projects in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science received a combined $4.8 million for projects related to the offshore.

In the virtual environments for knowledge mobilization project, which received $2.6 million, will further refine and develop simulator technologies and collaborative virtual environments that train workers in the offshore petroleum and shipping industries to improve safety of life at sea. Drs. Scott MacKinnon and Brian Veitch will lead an experienced multi-disciplinary R&D team based at Memorial and including the Marine Institute, Defense Research and Development Canada and the National Research Council of Canada. The research team will investigate linkages between learning and the level of presence produced by simulation and virtual environments. Also, in collaboration with Virtual Marine Technologies (VMT), it will advance existing emergency response training simulation prototypes to commercially ready production systems.

The second project funded in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, intelligent sensor platforms for remotely piloted vehicles, received $2.2 million to support autonomous decision- making/operation of unmanned vehicles. Dr. Nicholas Krouglicof will lead the project to develop intelligent cameras and laser scanning systems. The objective is to achieve high reliability, low power consumption, and real-time performance through the integrating of image sensing, acquisition, and processing within a single enclosure. The systems will meet the needs of industries which require monitoring in marine, harsh or remote environments, as well as those engaged in surveillance and security applications. A parallel research effort will focus on the development of an underwater 3D vision system that provides high dimensional accuracy for underwater inspection or marine structures and biological observation.

The Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation (CCFI) at the Fisheries and Marine Institute received $2.3 million to undertake research to improve efficiencies and product quality in crab meat processing. Pilot-scale, high-pressure processing (HPP) will be used and researchers will develop new technology for automated meat extraction after crab are treated using the HPP system. Not only will this system be more efficient, it will also produce higher-quality, higher-value products. Moreover, this process will kill spoilage organisms.

The Atlantic Innovation Fund is meant to enhance Atlantic Canada’s ability to carry out leading-edge R&D and to bring new knowledge, jobs and business opportunities to the region. Among Atlantic Canadian universities, Memorial ranks first in AIF funding.