A suite of government funding in support of McGill research

Published: 29 August 2023

McGill receives $42.5 million in research funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and the Canada Research Chairs Program

Today, the Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages, on behalf of the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry, and the Honourable Mark Holland, Minister of Health, announced an investment of more than $960 million in support of research and innovation through a suite of programs. These programs include the John R. Evans Leaders’ Fund (JELF), the SSHRC-administered Canada Research Chair (CRC) Program, the Partnership Development and Partnership Engage Grants & Insight Grants competitions, and NSERC’s Discovery Research Programs.

Fifty new and renewed Canada Research Chairs were awarded at 45 Canadian research institutions, ten at McGill. Of these ten, four New and six Renewed CRCs were awarded. With the addition of this newest cohort, McGill currently has 179 active chairholders (Tier 1 and Tier 2). McGill was also awarded two Partnership Engage Grants and one Partnership Development Grant. In addition, thirty McGill research projects received funding through JELF for innovative tools and infrastructure. Lastly, 147 McGill research projects received funding through the NSERC’s Discovery Research Programs. The total investment for McGill research is $42.5 million.

“McGill is grateful for the Government of Canada’s significant investment in research through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Canada Research Chairs Program, the John R. Evans Leaders Fund, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada,” said Martha Crago, Vice-Principal, Research and Innovation. “With this vital support, our scholars are empowered to pursue research in areas that will benefit our environment, the economy, and communities in Canada and around the world.”

From plant growth to genomics: McGill’s 10 Canada Research Chairs make an impact

The Canada Research Chairs Program is driving a national effort to make Canada one of the world’s top countries for research and development. To achieve this objective, the Government of Canada awards up to $311 million per year through the program to attract and retain a diverse cadre of world-class researchers to Canada.

McGill’s new Canada Research Chairs are working on complex global research challenges – for example, developing predictive models and responses to the climate crisis (Prof. Jennifer Sunday), uncovering the intricacies of human vascular disease (Prof. Rhain Touyz), optimizing clinical practice in stroke rehabilitation (Prof. Aliki Thomas), and using machine learning to advance genomic medicine and improve Canadian patient care (Prof. Yue Li). Renewed Chairs will continue to advance their research programs over five or seven years, including renewed Chair in Biomechanics of Plant Health, Anja Geitmann, who was also recently awarded a prestigious Human Frontiers in Science Program grant.

“I am proud to congratulate McGill’s new and renewed Canada Research Chairs on this important recognition for their work,” said Christopher Manfredi, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “Together, they embody the spirit of academic leadership, propelling Canada's research landscape forward and shaping a brighter future for all."

There are two types of Canada Research Chairs: Tier 1 Chairs, awarded to outstanding researchers acknowledged by their peers as world leaders in their fields, are valued at $200,000 annually for seven years with one opportunity for renewal; Tier 2 Chairs, valued at $100,000 annually for five years and renewable only once, are for exceptional emerging researchers, acknowledged by their peers as having the potential to lead in their field.

See list of McGill’s CRC recipients below.

Research made by collaboration: Partnership Engage and Development Grants 

Partnership Engage Grants (PEG) provide short-term and timely support for partnered research activities between researchers and single partner organizations from the public, private or non-profit sector. Partnership Development Grants (PDG) provide support over one to three years for teams working in formal collaboration between postsecondary institutions and/or organizations of various types in the social sciences and humanities. Professor Robert David (Desautels Faculty of Management) and Assistant Professor Christine Stich (Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health) received PEGs totalling more than $24,000 each.

With the support of the PEG, David will partner with Farmers' Markets Ontario (FMO), the only provincially recognized association of farmers' markets in Ontario. Farmers’ markets are an important outlet for local food products, yet farmers at times struggle to gain access to these markets while non-local products are often widely available. A lack of transparency often ensues, and consumers may be unable to discern local from non-local products. David’s project aims to develop knowledge of how an industry association such as FMO can define, maintain, and communicate the boundaries of what it means to be a farmers' market, and ultimately, promote local growers and consumer access to local food.

Stich has partnered with Dans la rue (DLR), a non-profit organization that supports youth at risk of or experiencing homelessness in downtown Montreal. Their project aims to better understand how DLR’s services, such as an emergency shelter and a day centre offering music and art workshops, influence youths' well-being and, ultimately, their trajectories out of homelessness. Designed as a community-based participatory research initiative, the project prioritizes issues identified by community participants and pays attention to power differentials between groups and individuals at all stages of research.

The recipient of a $200,000 Partnership Development Grant, Marie-Josée Fleury, Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, will examine homelessness and housing stability in Montreal. Together with a multidisciplinary team and key stakeholders in Montreal, Fleury is researching the challenges and issues related to the residential stability and social integration of individuals experiencing homelessness across different permanent housing models. By comparing the impact of private, social, and community-based housing on user outcomes from the perspective of both users and administrators, the study can provide insights to improve the implementation and selection of housing models that will best meet the needs of users and promote their recovery.

Investing in researchers’ infrastructure needs: The John R. Evans Leaders Fund

Thirty McGill researchers received grants totalling $10 million through the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI)’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund. The recipients also received matching funds from the Quebec government for their research endeavours for a total research investment of over $20 million. The JELF helps universities attract top talent in diverse fields of research by providing them with the highly specialized research infrastructure they need to excel.

"I would like to thank the CFI and the Government of Quebec for their generous investments in world class research and innovation through the John R. Evans Leaders Fund,” said Martha Crago, Vice-Principal (Research and Innovation). “Through this Fund, McGill’s talented researchers can acquire the cutting-edge tools and infrastructure they need to embark on ambitious projects across disciplines, including tackling climate change through machine learning, and advancing the critical work of vaccine development. My congratulations are extended to all the researchers who received funding today.”

Among the thirty researchers who received funding through the JELF is Udunna Anazodo, Assistant Professor and William Dawson Scholar in the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery. With the grant, Dr. Anazodo and co-investigator Professor Pedro Rosa Neto, of the Department of Psychiatry, will acquire an ultra-high-resolution positron emission tomography (PET) device that will be integrated into a whole-body ultra-high field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system to study astrocyte dysfunction, a significant biological process related to Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia. This world-first ultra-high-resolution PET/MRI system dedicated to brain imaging will enable novel discoveries in neuroscience across biological scales, at unparalleled spatial precision.

For researchers, nature can provide guidance to design functional materials in a sustainable manner, offering solutions to pressing environmental challenges. With JELF funding Noémie-Manuelle Dorval Courchesne, an Associate Professor in Chemical Engineering and a Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Biologically-Derived Materials, will acquire state-of-the-art spectroscopic and imaging tools to study marine mussels, and specifically their byssus – a material featuring a tough, self-healing fibrous core covered by a hard yet flexible coating – at the nanoscale. The research findings can be applied to creating sustainable polymers, developing wearable devices, and advancing tissue engineering techniques.

The devastating impact of COVID-19 on health and the economy has underscored the importance of basic research and domestic vaccine capacity. With JELF support, Paul Wiseman, Professor in the Department of Chemistry, and co-applicant Brian Ward, Professor in the Department of Medicine, will focus on vaccine development, specifically how plant-made virus-like particle (VLP) influenza vaccines interact with the immune system. Although the vaccines produced using this Canadian-developed technology work, there are fundamental questions about their mechanisms of action, including transport, delivery, and receptor binding, that need to be understood to fully exploit their potential. The project will utilize a state-of-the-art laser scanning microscope to track VLPs in immune cells, optimizing immune responses, and inform preparedness efforts against future infectious challenges like pandemic influenza.

See list of McGill’s JELF recipients below.

Fostering innovative discoveries: NSERC Discovery Grants 

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) awarded 147 McGill research projects with funding from its Discovery Research Programs, including Discovery Grants, Discovery Launch Supplements, Subatomic Physics Discovery Grants, Ship Time Grants, Discovery Grants Northern Research Supplements, Research Tools and Instruments Grants for a total investment of $31 million.

The Discovery Research Program supports ongoing programs of research with long-term goals. These grants recognize the creativity and innovation that are at the heart of all research advances. It also includes support for early-career researchers who will bring new perspectives and insights to their fields, enabling them to become the research leaders of tomorrow.

McGill’s funded projects include Professor Stefanie Blain-Moraes’s innovative research on the neurobiological substrates that underpin human consciousness, Lyle Whyte’s critical research on polar microbial ecology and diversity, and Professor Jeffrey Bergthorson’s research on carbon-free circular fuels. Also funded is Professor Alba Guarné’s structural and functional studies of DNA repair proteins.

With the support of a Discovery Grant, Ahmed El-Geneidy, Professor in the School of Urban Planning, will lead a series of interrelated projects focused on supporting sustainable transport transitions. Transport professionals across Canada are facing complex challenges as they work to achieve sustainability goals and increase the use of active transport such as cycling, walking, and public transit. El-Geneidy’s program aims to equip cities with the appropriate tools needed to transition to sustainable transport modes by generating practice ready research, and training highly qualified practitioners. Among the six projects led by El-Geneidy is a study to understand the practicality of adopting policies such as the 15-minute city—the concept that city dwellers should be able to access all their destinations within 15 minutes through walking or cycling—in Canada. El-Geneidy is also analyzing the changes in the elasticity of public transit demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic and new teleworking policies.

For a list of McGill's recipients, consult the database of Discovery Research Program recipients 


McGill’s 2022-1 round of CRC recipients:

Simon Caron-Huot, Canada Research Chair in High-Energy Physics, NSERC, Tier 2 (Renewed)
Anja Geitmann, Canada Research Chair in Biomechanics of Plant Development, NSERC, Tier 1 (Renewed)
Yue Li, Canada Research Chair in Machine Learning for Genomics and Healthcare, CIHR, Tier 2 (New)
Mylene Riva, Canada Research Chair in Housing, Community and Health, CIHR, Tier 2 (Renewed)
Hamed Shateri Najafabadi, Canada Research Chair in Systems Biology of Gene Regulation, CIHR, Tier 2 (Renewed)
Thomas Soehl, Canada Research Chair in International Migration, SSHRC, Tier 2 (Renewed)
Samira Abbasgholizadeh Rahimi, Canada Research Chair in Advanced Digital Primary Health Care, CIHR, Tier 2 (New)
Jennifer Sunday, Canada Research Chair in Global Change Ecology, NSERC, Tier 2 (New)
Aliki Thomas, Canada Research Chair in Education, Practice and Policy for Evidence-Based Healthcare, CIHR, Tier 2 (New)
Rhian Touyz, Canada Research Chair in Cardiovascular Medicine, CIHR, Tier 1 (New)
Yu Xia, Canada Research Chair in Computational and Systems Biology, NSERC, Tier 1 (Renewed)

McGill’s CFI JELF-funded projects:

Towards a Safer, Less Invasive, and more Effective Mapping of Drug-resistant Epilepsy Networks
Professor Boris Bernhardt, Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery
$467,119 from JELF, $467,119 matching provincial funds

Centre for Study and Treatment of Circadian Rhythms
Professor Diane Boivin, Department of Psychiatry
$225,630 from JELF, $225,630 matching provincial funds

Elucidating the Structure and Assembly of Biologically-derived Materials via Spectroscopic and Imaging Techniques
Professor Noémie-Manuelle Dorval Courchesne, Department of Chemical Engineering
$719,441 from JELF, $719,441 matching provincial funds

Political Landscape Archaeology Laboratory
Professor Peter Johansen, Department of Anthropology
$105,921 from JELF, $105,921 matching provincial funds

Infrastructure for Harnessing Bone and Periodontal Stem Cell Regenerative Potential
Professor Mari Kaartinen, Faculty of Dentistry, Division of Biomedical Sciences
$546,130 from JELF, $546,130 matching provincial funds

Harnessing the Optical Properties of Natural and Engineered Systems for Environmental Pathogen Control
Professor Stephanie Loeb, Department of Civil Engineering
$126,505 from JELF, $126,505 matching provincial funds

Advanced Bioimaging Tools to Study Neuronal Disease and Cancer Metastasis
Professor Anne McKinney, Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics
$796,174 from JELF, $796,174 matching provincial funds

Physiologic-and Pathophysiologic-responsive Brainstem Neurons Regulating Appetite
Professor Paul Sabatini, Department of Medicine
$88,955 from JELF, $88,955 matching provincial funds

Empirical Evaluation of Intelligent Soft Robots
Professor Audrey Sedal, Department of Mechanical Engineering
$200,000 from JELF, $200,000 matching provincial funds

Accurate Characterization and Prediction of Hydrogen Embrittlement for a Reliable Pathway Towards Hydrogen Economy
Professor Jun Song, Department of Mining and Materials Engineering
$525,000 from JELF, $525,000 matching provincial funds

Experimental Characterization of Pathogen-biofluid Interactions for Disease Models and Therapeutics
Professor Caroline Wagner, Department of Biological & Biomedical Engineering
$97,307 from JELF, $97,307 matching provincial funds

Tracking Virus like Particles in Real Time in Cells to Guide Next Generation Vaccine Development
Professor Paul Wiseman, Department of Chemistry
$325,535 from JELF, $325,535 matching provincial funds

Establishing a Tool for Hybrid Ultra-high Resolution Molecular and Structural Brain Imaging
Professor Udunna Anazodo, Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery
$799,243 from JELF, $799,243 matching provincial funds

Storage, Transport, and Concentration of Critical Metals in Ore Deposits
Professor Don Baker, Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences
$793,047 from JELF, $793,047 matching provincial funds

Experimental Platform for Probing Thermal Properties and Exotic Thermal Transport
Professor Samuel Huberman, Department of Chemical Engineering
$415,310 from JELF, $415,310 matching provincial funds

Next-generation Measurements of Complex Species Traits
Professor Lars Iversen, Department of Biology
$105,504 from JELF, $105,504 matching provincial funds

High-resolution Characterization of Patient-derived Transcriptomes in Heavily-mutated Skin Cancers
Professor Philippe Lefrançois, Department of Medicine
$106,745 from JELF, $106,745 matching provincial funds

Studying the Neural Basis of Interpersonal Interactions in Severe Mental Illnesses
Professor Lena Palaniyappan, Department of Psychiatry
$139,528 from JELF, $139,528 matching provincial funds

Video Rate Multiphoton Bessel Beam Imaging System
Professor Edward Ruthazer, Department of Psychology
$273,206 from JELF, $273,206 matching provincial funds

High Resolution Intravital Imaging Platform to Assess Inflammation in the Pulmonary Vasculature
Professor Donna Senger , Department of Medicine
$645,978 from JELF, $645,978 matching provincial funds

An Elemental Analyzer Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer (EA-IRMS) for Stable Oxygen Isotope Analysis in Phosphates
Professor Christian von Sperber, Department of Geography
$264,716 from JELF, $264,716 matching provincial funds

Mechanoadaptation and Whole Body Bioenergetics in Osteogenesis Imperfecta and other Metabolic Bone Diseases
Professor Bettina Willie, Department of Pediatric Surgery
$445,302 from JELF, $445,302 matching provincial funds

Infrastructure for the Establishment of a Riparian-River Ecohydrological Connectivity Observation Network (RECON)
Professor Genevieve Ali, Department of Geography
$139,988 from JELF, $139,988 matching provincial funds

Functional Genomics Platform to Study Gene Function and Drug Development
Professor Raquel Cuella Martin, Department of Human Genetics
$140,000 from JELF, $140,000 matching provincial funds

Autoantibodies and Molecular Mimicry with Gut Microbiota in Chronic Pain
Professor Emerson Krock, Faculty of Dental Medicine and Oral Health Sciences
$173,458 from JELF, $173,458 matching provincial funds

Exploring the Role of Extracellular Vesicles in Schistosoma Mansoni
Professor Thavy Long, Institute of Parasitology
$254,691 from JELF, $254,691 matching provincial funds

Machine Learning for Tackling Climate Change
Professor David Rolnick, School of Computer Science
$107,866 from JELF, $107,866 matching provincial funds

Characterizing Mechanisms of Therapeutic Resistance in Metastatic Cancers to Discover Novel Therapeutic Opportunities
Professor April Rose, Department of Medicine
$100,000 from JELF, $100,000 matching provincial funds

The Vasculome of Hypertension and Small Vessel Disease
Professor Rhian Touyz, Department of Family Medicine
$570,000 from JELF, $570,000 matching provincial funds

Laboratory for Quantum Meta-Optics
Professor Kai Wang, Department of Physics
$379,606 from JELF, $379,606 matching provincial funds

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