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REF NO.: 329

SUBJECT: From molecules to computer technology: Memorial University researchers receive Canada Foundation for Innovation funding
DATE: June 27, 2006

New infrastructure, funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), will make it possible for Memorial University researchers to look more closely at molecules than ever before, help develop new strategies for dealing with cancer and go beyond the microchip. Over $820,000 was awarded for three projects which will have far-reaching benefits for Canadians.
            Dr. Travis Fridgen of the Department of Chemistry has received $547,630 in funding from CFI for new equipment aimed at fundamental studies of weak interactions between neutral and electrically-charged molecules and the structures that result from these interactions. This fundamental research has the potential to aid researchers who are trying to further understand Alzheimer’s disease and those studying self-assembling molecules for drug delivery and perhaps other areas in medical research such as diagnosis. The infrastructure will also enable researchers in areas such as health, synthetic chemistry and drug design.
            Data storage has become an essential part of product development in almost all industries relying on advanced technology. The transfer, display and storage of information of any type, using devices based on semiconductors, fibre optics or magnetic materials, all increasingly rely on developments in thin (nano) film technology. Drs. Martin Plumer and John Whitehead, Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, were awarded $156,711 for a project where computer algorithms that model the devices and materials used in magnetic thin (nano) film technology will be developed.
High performance computing is an enabling and indispensable requirement for many of Memorial’s strategic research activities. These include studies of the genetics, lifecycles and population dynamics of fish species along Newfoundland's coastline, fluid dynamic studies to determine how structures respond to different water flow regimes thereby helping to reduce oil exploration costs as well as improving the stability and safety of offshore drilling platforms, and analyses of clinical data to improve cancer detection, diagnosis, treatment and prevention strategies. Dr. David Pike, along with Drs. Serpil Kocabiyik and Paul Peng of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, was awarded $116,456 for equipment which will allow computational tasks that require substantial amounts of memory.
            “These awards represent a significant boost to the research capacities of Memorial University of Newfoundland,” said Dr. Eliot Phillipson, president and CEO of the CFI. “Today’s announcement exemplifies what the CFI is all about: providing institutions with the means to attract and retain the world-class researchers that this country needs to remain at the forefront in terms of both quality of life and economic competitiveness.”
            “Sophisticated technologies enabling the investigation of important but complex problems, including those at the molecular level, have never been more advanced,” said Dr. Christopher Loomis, vice-president (research). “Funding from the CFI is helping to put those technologies into the hands of some of our brightest researchers and their students. It is these kinds of investments that are reshaping the future of this province and this country.”      
            The CFI announced today a total of $20.5 million in new funds to support 132 researchers at 33 institutions across Canada. These funds were awarded under the CFI’s Leaders Opportunity Fund (LOF), a program designed to reflect Canada’s fast-evolving research environment. The LOF was designed to give Canadian universities the added flexibility they need to both attract and retain the world’s finest researchers at a time of intense international competition for leading faculty.

         The CFI’s Board of Directors approved this investment under two funds: $17 million under the LOF, and $3.5 million under the Infrastructure Operating Fund, an accompanying program which assists universities with the incremental operating and maintenance costs associated with new infrastructure projects.

            A complete list of LOF projects, by university, can be found at www.innovation.ca.
            The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) is an independent corporation created by the Government of Canada to fund research infrastructure. The CFI’s mandate is to strengthen the capacity of Canadian universities, colleges, research hospitals, and non-profit research institutions to carry out world-class research and technology development that benefits Canadians.

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