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REF NO.: 99

SUBJECT: Memorial University researchers receive $2 million in funding support

DATE: Jan. 12,2010

The Research & Development Corporation (RDC), the Crown corporation for improving research and development activity and performance in Newfoundland and Labrador, today announced a $2-million investment in research projects at Memorial University through the Industrial Research and Innovation Fund (IRIF). 
The investment is being made in 15 research projects in areas including archaeology, ocean technology, engineering, marine biology, biochemistry and medicine.
The IRIF investment enables researchers to leverage an additional $4.2 million from other funding sources including the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), Canada Research Chairs Program, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Canadian Institutes for Health Research-Regional Partnership Program (CIHR-RPP) and others.
“The investment from the Industrial Research and Innovation Fund supports innovative research at Memorial University that is relevant to local
industry and the provincial economy,” said Glenn Janes, chief executive officer of the RDC. “Strategic investments in R&D at post-secondary institutions are essential for attracting and retaining the best researchers and building the infrastructure and capacity in support of research and development in the province.”
“The Industrial Research and Innovation Fund is an important funding resource for research and development in Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Dr. Ray Gosine, vice-president (research) pro tempore at Memorial University. “The ability to leverage additional investment allows a researcher to increase the scale of their project and improve the quality of their research through collaboration with key figures at the local, national and international levels.”
One of those researchers is Dr. Daniel MacPhee, associate professor of reproductive and developmental biology in the Division of BioMedical Sciences in Memorial’s Faculty of Medicine. Dr. MacPhee is receiving $158,814 for research that will aid in identifying the origin, in whole or in part, of some diseases during human pregnancy, such as preeclampsia, that are a result of improper development of the placenta – the disk-like organ attaching baby to mother.
“In order for such diseases to be resolved in the clinic or perhaps even be prevented, a better understanding of how the human placenta develops in the first place is required. This is our goal,” said Dr. MacPhee.
“We will study a signaling molecule and several of its partner proteins that we believe are critical for development of the placenta. These molecules may then be potential future targets for drug development or useful as ‘markers’ for screening pregnant women who could be susceptible to such diseases of pregnancy.”
Dr. MacPhee’s IRIF funding is matched by $158,814 from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
He said the provincial funding helps drive “high-quality” research programs.
That sentiment is echoed by Dr. Craig Purchase, assistant professor, Department of Biology.
He has been awarded $90,716 in IRIF funding to create a new fish ecology research laboratory at Memorial. This leverages $81,456 he has received in funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation.
Dr. Purchase said the IRIF funding will allow his research team to further investigate a number of ecological, evolutionary and conservation issues.
“Relatively little research is invested into how populations might adapt to their environments or how changing environmental conditions would influence both their ecology and evolution,” said Dr. Purchase.
“These are some of the voids my group will make progress on filling. I am particularly interested in how local adaptation among populations — within the same species — influence productivity of that species as a whole. Most of our research would be impossible without the support of IRIF, as the equipment necessary to collect these data would not be accessible.”
The Industrial Research and Innovation Fund was established by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2004 to build R&D capacity in Newfoundland and Labrador’s post-secondary institutions and other not-for-profit research facilities that support research and development, innovation and commercialization in areas relevant to industry and the local economy. In April 2009, the provincial government transferred administration of the fund to the Research & Development Corporation.

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BACKGROUNDER

IRIF Research Projects
LeverageR&D: This program element leverages incremental R&D investments from regional, national and international sources by providing investments toward eligible costs of a specific project proposal. 

Canada Research Chair in Ocean Technology: Dr. Ralf Bachmayer, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Memorial University

The RDC is investing $447,255 towards Dr. Bachmayer’s research on the autonomous operations of underwater vehicles in extreme environments such as the Canadian Arctic. This Canada Research Chair focuses on two research areas: under-ice operations and advanced autonomous underwater sampling techniques. Dr. Bachmayer was awarded $500,000 from the Canada Research Chairs program and $192,944 from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

Atlantic Cod Genomics and Broodstock Development: Drs. Matthew Rise & Kurt Gamperl, Ocean Sciences Centre, Memorial University

Drs. Rise & Gamperl are receiving $183,050 from IRIF to support the $938,744 funding awarded from Genome Canada. Their research involves the discovery of several thousand Atlantic cod genes, the identification of sequence differences in these genes between individual fish, and the use of functional genomic experiments (e.g., using DNA microarrays) to identify the genes involved in the production of relevant traits such as resistance to pathogens and environmental stress.

300 MHZ NMR Spectrometer for Multinuclear Experiments: Dr. Christopher Kozak, Department of Chemistry, Memorial University

Dr. Kozak is receiving $124,125 towards the purchase of an NMR Spectrometer that will be used for conducting experiments with a wide range of nuclei. This instrument will become a part of the Centre for Chemical Analysis, Research and Training (C-CART) which is a satellite of Memorial University’s campus-wide Core Research Equipment and Instrument Training Network (CREAIT). This leverages a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) award for $150,000.

Fish Ecology Research Laboratory: Dr. Craig Purchase, Department of Biology, Memorial University

The RDC has supported Dr. Purchase’s research with an IRIF award of $90,716 to establish a new fish ecology research laboratory in the Biology Department at Memorial University. This leverages $81,456 in funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

Canada Research Chair in Health Promotion and Community Development: Empowering Lives by Promoting Healthy Communities: Dr. Martha Traverso-Yépez, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University

Dr. Traverso-Yépez’s research seeks to identify ways to enhance the capacity of existing organizational networks to achieve a cooperative relationship between available health promotional services and the community. The $100,000 IRIF award leverages the $500,000 in funding from the Canada Research Chairs program.

Viruses and Movement of Genes Between Bacteria: Dr. Andrew Lang, Department of Biology, Memorial University

Dr. Lang’s project, in collaboration with the Broad Institute and the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation, is generating genomic and metagenomic resources to further advance the study of marine ecosystems and evolutionary processes.  
The IRIF award of $9,225 is being used to leverage the $9,225 committed by the Broad Institute and the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation to this project.

Digital Content Infrastructure for the Human and Social Sciences: Lorraine Busby, Library Sciences, Memorial University

Ms. Busby has been awarded $309,526 to participate in the Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN) to acquire a critical mass of digital text, data, images, visual and sound content from international and domestic publishing sources in the human and social sciences disciplines for Canadian researchers. The IRIF award leverages $309,526 from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). Memorial University is also supporting this project for $154,763.

Understanding the Past to Build the Future: Dr. Lisa Rankin, Department of Archaeology, Memorial University

Dr. Rankin has been awarded $250,000 to leverage $999,935 in funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) program Community-University Research Alliances (CURA). Dr. Rankin’s research will provide Labrador Métis with greater knowledge of their past so that they may successfully confront current and future economic, educational and social challenges.

The following research projects were approved under the memorandum of understanding with the Canadian Institute for Health Research-Regional Partnership Program. Under this MOU RDC co-funds 50/50 on projects approved within CIHR-RPP.

The Origin of Creatine in Milk and the Regulation of its Synthesis During Lactation: Dr. Simon Lamarre, Department of Biochemistry, Memorial University

Dr. Lamarre is receiving $22,500 to conduct research to determine the origin of creatine in milk and understand the regulation of its synthesis in lactating females, as creatine plays a crucial role in the brain development of newborns. This IRIF funding is matched by $22,500 from CIHR-RPP.

The Influence of Neonatal Diet on the Epigenetic Status of the Pig Genome: Dr. Mark T. Collins, Department of Biochemistry, Memorial University

Dr. Collins has been awarded $11,000 to continue his research on the effect of periods of poor nutrition during foetal development and the long-term health consequences for adults. This IRIF funding is matched by $11,000 from CIHR-RPP.

The Role of Integrin-Linked Kinase in Human Trophoblast Cell Differentiation and Function: Dr. Daniel MacPhee, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University

Dr. MacPhee is receiving $158,814 for research that will aid in identifying the origin, in whole or in part, of some pregnancy-associated diseases thought to result from abnormal trophoblast development and could lead to the development of a specific blood test that could identify patients at risk of such diseases. This IRIF funding is matched by $158,814 from CIHR-RPP.

A Beta-Adrenoceptor Mediated Memory Circuitry in Rats: Dr. Qi Yuan, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University

Dr. Yuan has been awarded $119,073 to conduct research that involves a deeper understanding of the memory mechanism in animal models. This research has implications for the treatment of memory dysfunction in Alzheimer's disease and other age-related disorders, which significantly affect quality of life of millions of people. This IRIF funding is matched by $119,073 from CIHR-RPP.

Investigation of the HLA Class II Antigen Presentation Pathway in Estrogen Receptor Negative and Estrogen Receptor Positive Breast Carcinoma: Dr. Ahmed Mostafa, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University

Dr. Mostafa is receiving $22,500 to conduct a study that will improve our understanding of how a tumor cell can be altered to stimulate an effective immune response and consequently, aid in developing new approaches to breast cancer treatment. This IRIF funding is matched by $22,500 from CIHR-RPP.

IgniteR&D:
This program element is intended to establish new R&D capacity in support of research and development, innovation and commercialization in areas relevant to both industry and the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador. 

Autonomous Oceans Systems – Research in Design, Navigation and Control: Dr. Ralf Bachmayer, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Memorial University

Dr. Bachmayer has been awarded $93,500 to research and develop novel autonomous platforms and solutions for existing platforms to explore, monitor and exploit the ocean and ocean floor in areas that are currently hard or impossible to access year-around, such as the Labrador Shelf or the Canadian Arctic.

Computational Climatology Laboratory: Dr. Joel Finnis, Department of Geography, Memorial University

Dr. Finnis has been awarded $50,000 to establish and operate a computational laboratory dedicated to the collection, synthesis, and interpretation of a wide range of climate and weather data, with an emphasis on understanding climate processes affecting Newfoundland & Labrador. 
 
About IRIF
The Industrial Research and Innovation Fund has three elements for post-secondary institutions and other not-for-profit research facilities that support research and development, innovation and commercialization in Newfoundland and Labrador:
LeverageR&D: leverages the incremental R&D investments from regional, national, and international sources by matching financial contributions from public and/or private sources.
IgniteR&D: supports new researchers with the goal of increasing capacity in R&D, innovation and commercialization in areas relevant to both industry and the provincial economy where applicants are not eligible for LeverageR&D. 
CollaborativeR&D: promotes collaborative research and research initiatives among industry and academia.
  
About the Research & Development Corporation

The Research & Development Corporation is a provincial Crown corporation that was established to improve Newfoundland and Labrador’s R&D performance. The Research & Development Corporation operates at arm’s length from government but with responsibility for providing advice and leadership within government. The RDC works with R&D stakeholders including industry, academia and government agencies and departments. For more information about the RDC, go to www.researchnl.com.
 
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For further information, please contact Jeff Green, communications co-ordinator (research), Memorial University of Newfoundland, at (709) 737-4073, (709) 687-9243 or jeffg@mun.ca, or Libby Carew, director, marketing, Research and Development Corporation, at (709) 758-0973, (709) 728-6852 or libbycarew@researchnl.com.
 
 

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