Research funding highlights

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) awarded more than $10 million to three McGill researchers under its Leading Edge Fund, which helps researchers acquire the infrastructure to carry out innovative research. The award will support the purchase of microscopes and robotics that Kalle Gehring (Biochemistry), uses to study biomolecules and their roles in various diseases such as Parkinson's and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Peter Grütter (Physics) will use his funding to outfit his research facility with cutting edge nanotools and to train new students in research techniques that set the international standard for nanoscale applications in telecommunications, medicine and computing. Marc McKee (Dentistry), who studies the role of  cellular ultrastructures in disease diagnoses, tissue repair and regeneration,  will purchase an advanced electron microscope and lab equipment that can examine and manipulate molecules at -140 degrees Celsius.

The McGill University and Génome Québec Innovation Centre received over $7.4 million in funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Génome Québec to support research examining how environmental factors alter the expression of DNA and have lifelong effects on human health. Mark Lathrop, Tomi Pastinen and Michael Meaney will use epigenome mapping to study interactions between environment and genes in human blood cells. Guillaume Bourque and Alan Evans will develop a framework to support large-scale processing, sharing and visualization of epigenomics data.

Louis Collins (Montreal Neurological Institute) received close to $600,000 in funding from the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé to improve ways to diagnose Alzheimer's disease before symptoms appear. Collins’ research uses sophisticated magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) analysis tools to assess patterns of brain atrophy in patients with mild cognitive impairments and helps physicians predict which patients are at risk of developing the disease.

Prof. Luda Diatchenko with Science and Technology Minister Greg Rickford (Photo by Owen Egan)McGill was awarded two of 11 prestigious Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERCs) chosen by the Government of Canada to encourage research and innovation in areas vital to the country's economic prosperity and growth. Luda Diatchenko (Medicine and Dentistry, CERC in Human Pain Genetics) will study and identify the critical elements of human genetic variability that contribute to pain sensitivity or chronic pain, with the hope of developing personalized treatment and therapy. The CERC in Green Chemistry and Green Chemicals, currently in the recruitment phase, will investigate how the use of chemicals in our industrialized society affects environment and health, with the goal of informing policy decisions and chemical industrial practice.

Once again this year, McGill was awarded two SSHRC Partnership Grants. Paul Yachnin in the Department of English and Renée Sieber in the Department of Geography will receive nearly $9-million in combined funding. Yachnin will study forms of conversion in religion, culture and cognitive ecologies in early modern Europe and Sieber will investigate how the geospatial web 2.0 is reshaping government-citizen interactions.