Investing in the future

From early disease detection to better drug design and more efficient nanoelectronics – three McGill research projects share close to $11 million in awards from the CFI

Published: 15 January 2013

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) has awarded an impressive $ 10,861,200 to three McGill University researchers under its Leading Edge Fund (LEF). They will use the money to buy state-of-the-art equipment to work in fields ranging from nanomedicine to structural biology and nanoelectronics. One of the three projects involves collaborative research with Université de Montréal, which will share in the research funds. The funds from CFI will be matched by contributions made by the government of Quebec.

The three projects are:

Structural biology at the crossroads of biology and medicine - led by Prof. Kalle Gehring (Dept. of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine) – $ 4,834,800 – a joint project with Université de Montréal.
The grant will give researchers an improved ability to visualize the three-dimensional shapes of biological molecules, such as proteins and nucleic acids. This should lead to a better understanding of the origins of diseases such as cancer and to the design of novel molecules for use in structure-based drug design and green chemistry.

Tools for nanoscience and technology upgrade – led by Prof. Peter Grütter (Dept. of Physics, Faculty of Science) – $ 4,520,148.
Working at the nanolevel (a prefix used in standard measuring units to denote a factor of 10−9 or one billionth), these funds will support cutting-edge research and development programs designed to improve energy efficiency in the fields of solar energy, information technology and biomedical applications of nanoscience and microtechnology.

Multiscale imaging and analysis of biological systems and biomaterials in nanomedicine – led by Prof. Marc McKee (Faculty of Dentistry) – $ 1,506,252
The researchers will use the grant to buy equipment that will allow them to take high-resolution images and analyze the biological processes that occur in proteins, cells and tissues at the subcellular, cellular and molecular level. The ultimate goal is to help researchers design targeted, site-specific therapeutics at the molecular scale, novel implant materials for tissue repair and regeneration, as well as new methods for the early diagnosis of disease.

The government of Canada created the CFI in 1997 to build Canada’s capacity to undertake world-class research and technology development to benefit Canadians. The LOF is designed to help researchers acquire the infrastructure needed to carry out innovative research.

“Research and innovation is a forceful driver of growth in our communities,” said Gilles G. Patry, president and CEO of the Canada Foundation for Innovation. “Today’s funding will allow a talented group of researchers and students to create the solutions, products and ideas Canada needs to prosper.”

“McGill researchers apply their knowledge and imagination towards finding solutions to the problems that face us all,” said Rose Goldstein, Vice-Principal (Research and International Relations) at McGill. “Whether they are looking for ways to detect disease earlier on, developing more efficient nanoelectronics, or working to design better drugs, the support of the Canada Foundation for Innovation is essential to this research and we are very grateful for it.”

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