Memorial University awarded two Canada Research Chair positions

Apr 13th, 2015

Office of the Vice-President (Research)

Memorial University awarded two Canada Research Chair positions

Two Memorial University professors with the Faculty of Medicine have been named Canada Research Chairs. The designation is one of Canada’s highest honours in research excellence.

Dr. Craig S. Moore, assistant professor, neurosciences, Division of BioMedical Sciences, and cross-appointed with the Discipline of Medicine (neurology), has been named a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Neuroscience and Brain Repair. Dr. Moore's research program aims to identify and test novel drug targets for treating chronic neurodegenerative diseases.

Dr. Michelle Ploughman, assistant professor, medicine (physical medicine and rehabilitation), Faculty of Medicine, was named a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Rehabilitation, Neuroplasticity and Brain Recovery. Dr. Ploughman is a recognized expert in neuroplasticity and neurorehabilitation in stroke and multiple sclerosis. Her research focuses on the effects of aerobic exercise, intensive training paradigms and lifestyle habits on the brain challenged by injury, disease and aging.

Tier 2 Chairs, tenable for five years and renewable once, are exceptional emerging researchers acknowledged by their peers to have the potential to lead in their field. For each Tier 2 Chair, the university receives $100,000 annually for five years.

The announcement was made April 9 by Ed Holder, minister of state (science and technology), at the University of Toronto Mississauga Campus, where he announced 150 new and renewed Canada Research Chairs, and an investment of $139 million with an additional $7.6 million in infrastructure support by the Canada Foundation for Innovation. This funding will help promote research and development and support top-tier talent at Canadian post-secondary institutions.

The Canada Research Chairs program was established by the Government of Canada to enable Canadian universities to achieve the highest level of research excellence. The program offers Memorial an opportunity to strengthen its research culture, infrastructure and reputation by retaining outstanding researchers and recruiting new faculty members with exceptional research records.

“Being named a Canada Research Chair is a tremendous honour and I congratulate both of our chair holders for this significant accomplishment,” said Dr. Gary Kachanoski, president and vice-chancellor, Memorial University. “Their contribution to innovative research in their respective fields will no doubt lead to significant breakthroughs that will have a real impact on the people of this province and beyond.”

“This announcement is a testament to the remarkable talent and leadership of Memorial’s researchers,” said Dr. Richard Marceau, vice-president (research), Memorial University. “To be awarded a Canada Research Chair position is one of the highest levels of research excellence in this country and Memorial is very proud to be able to support and celebrate this prestigious honour.”

Currently, Memorial is home to 13 Canada Research Chairs active in areas including traditional music and ethnomusicology; marine bioscience; neuroscience and brain repair; rehabilitation, neuroplasticity and brain repair; scientific modelling and simulation; viral hepatitis/immunology, Aboriginal studies; proteomics; natural resource sustainability and community development; marine biotechnology; glacial dynamics modelling; regional language and oral text; and environmental science.

Public announcements of Canada Research Chairs are made twice a year. To view the full list of Memorial University’s Canada Research Chairs, please visit www.mun.ca/research/explore/chairs/crc.php. All nominations, whether they are for a new chair, the renewal of a current chair or the advancement of a chair holder, are assessed by the College of Reviewers, which is made up of experts from a wide range of research fields. 

The announcement of these positions will create opportunities for advancement in research for both Drs. Moore and Ploughman.                                                                     

“The Canada Research Chair position will allow me to develop a high-calibre research laboratory and infrastructure to study how the brain responds and recovers during disease or injury,” said Dr. Moore. “I am extremely grateful for this opportunity, which will help promote and advance basic and clinical neuroscience research at Memorial University.”

"The Canada Research Chair in rehabilitation, neuroplasticity and brain recovery builds critical capacity within Memorial University and Canada to improve recovery after stroke and multiple sclerosis,” said Dr. Ploughman. “The award will support my research and a new research laboratory to test innovative methods to enhance brain plasticity and train the next generation of Canadian researchers. This comes at a time when our population is aging and brain health takes on an even higher priority."

 

About Canada Research Chairs

The Canada Research Chairs program stands at the centre of a national strategy to make Canada one of the world’s top countries in research and development. In 2000 the Government of Canada created a permanent program to establish 2,000 research professorships – Canada Research Chairs – in eligible degree-granting institutions across the country. The Canada Research Chairs program invests approximately $265 million per year to attract and retain some of the world’s most accomplished and promising minds. Chair holders aim to achieve research excellence in engineering and the natural sciences, health sciences, humanities and social sciences. For more information, visit www.chairs-chaires.gc.ca/home-accueil-eng.aspx.  

 

About Dr. Craig S. Moore

Dr. Moore's research program aims to identify and test novel drug targets for treating chronic neurodegenerative diseases. In Canada and much of the developing world, the increasing incidence of brain-related diseases emphasizes the need to further research and develop more effective drugs that can benefit the quality of life in individuals suffering from such illnesses. A particular focus of Dr. Moore's laboratory is to understand how inflammation in the brain leads to injury and repair. In the field of multiple sclerosis (MS) research, Dr. Moore has identified several different molecules in the human body that could be targeted to promote repair in the damaged brain and are relevant in several neurological conditions, such as MS, stroke, brain cancers, Alzheimer’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and traumatic brain injury. Together with his collaborators in industry and academia, he is raising awareness that in a supportive environment, the human brain hasevolved the ability to endure injury and stimulate repair. Dr. Moore’s research encompasses both in vitro (cell culture) and in vivo (live animal) studies. In vitro studies include the use of primary rodent and human neural cells (astrocytes, microglia, oligodendrocytes, neurons), which are designed to investigate the individual cellular mechanisms related to inflammation, injury and survival. Primary immune cells (T and B lymphocytes, myeloid cell populations) are also cultured in vitro to observe how immune cell-neural cell interactions contribute to neural cell-specific injury. In vitro studies also allow the introduction or removal of genes and microRNAs within individual immune and neural cell types. Through genetic manipulation via cellular transfection, it is possible to alter the cell phenotype and function and relate it to in situ observations. Using transgenic and pharmacological approaches, in vivo experiments complement in vitro findings and help validate novel drug targets related to decreasing inflammation and promoting repair in the central nervous system.

 

About Dr. Michelle Ploughman

Dr. Ploughman is a recognized expert in neuroplasticity and neurorehabilitation in stroke and multiple sclerosis. Her research focuses on the effects of aerobic exercise, intensive training paradigms and lifestyle habits on the brain challenged by injury, disease and aging. Dr. Ploughman was a Canadian Institutes of Health Research post-doctoral fellow and her work is published in journals such as Stroke, Neuroscience, Brain Research and Archives of Physical Medicineand Rehabilitation. She was the principal investigator for the Canadian Survey of Health, Lifestyle and Aging with Multiple Sclerosis, the largest study of aging with MS in Canada with over 740 participants from 10 study sites. Dr. Ploughman continues to practise as a neurological physiotherapist in St John’s, N.L., and her Recovery and Performance Laboratory is located in the Rehabilitation Research Unit, L.A. Miller Centre, St. John’s, N.L.

 

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For more information, please contact Krista Davidson, communications co-ordinator, Office of the Vice-President (Research), Memorial University, at kdavidson@mun.ca or 709-864-4073.

 

 

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