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Funding to fight Alzheimer's, build stronger steel, increase literacy and more

Funding to fight Alzheimer's, build stronger steel, increase literacy and more

McMaster's John R. Evans Leaders Fund Recipients with Minister Holder (photo details below)

April 14, 2014

The first hints of Alzheimer’s disease in older Canadians may be caught earlier using new biomarkers being developed by McMaster neuroscientist Jennifer Heisz.

Heisz’s Neurophysiology and Fitness Laboratory is one of 149 facilities at universities across the country to benefit from new federal investments through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund.

Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology) today announced more than $30 million in funding for research infrastructure at 32 universities across the country. The John R. Evans Leaders Fund helps these academic institutions attract some of the world’s most talented researchers in a variety of disciplines.

Awards will also go to institutions with researchers working in areas such as pharmacology, infectious disease and materials engineering. The funds will provide these researchers with advanced research tools that will help them expand Canada’s innovation capacity and contribute to the country’s economic success.

“The decline of cognitive abilities among Canada’s aging population poses a great challenge to our healthcare system, society and economy,” says Heisz. “With the CFI’s support, my team will have the tools to monitor brain function in new and novel ways that may eventually give clinicians the means they need, whether through exercise or lifestyle changes, to prevent the onset of dementia among their older patients.”

Eight other McMaster researchers received funding today, including:

  • Neslihan Dogan, assistant professor in materials science and engineering, will use her $80,000 from the CFI for her project: Removal of Micro-Particles in Steel Processing. Dogan’s award will fund equipment that is unmatched in Canada: a high temperature confocal scanning laser microscopy suite that will help optimize steel products and improve end-product quality in products such as those used in lightweight automobiles.
  • Jeremiah Hurley, professor and chair, economics (with co- investigators Neil Buckley and  Katherine Cuff) has been awarded $100,000 for the McMaster Decision Science Laboratory (McDSL). The McDSL’s innovative program of research applies experimental economic methods to investigate mixed public and private systems of health care finance and Canadian's judgments regarding the equitable allocation of health care resources. This unique laboratory will conduct economic experiments in 3D virtual-world environments, with adjacent research facilities designed for conducting interviews with study participants.
  • Victor Kuperman, assistant professor, linguistics and languages will use his $146,416 in CFI funded infrastructure for a comprehensive research program focussed on 16-25 year-old adults enrolled in reading remediation programs at Ontario high schools and adult literacy centres. His project Causes of inadequate reading comprehension in young adults, will inform the practices and methods of adult literacy assessment and education to help improve instructional techniques for the 4 in 10 Canadians over the age of 15 who are unable to read at a level necessary for success at work and in day-to-day life.
  • Abigail Payne, professor, economics, and co-investigators Fei Chiang, assistant professor, computing & software, and Magdalena Janus, associate professor, psychiatry & behavioural neuroscience have been awarded $200,000 for PEDAL 2.0: Secure Data Linking to Quantify Impacts of Social Intervention. The funding will build upon McMaster’s Public Economics Data Laboratory – PEDAL’s – strong track record of developing research-ready data sets. PEDAL 2.0 will assist public and non-profit organizations who strive to offer programs and implement policies designed to improve the lives of community residents. PEDAL 2.0 will bring together the technology and methodology required to provide quantitative analyses to address knowledge gaps between overlapping policies, what measurable improvements these organizations generate, or why the effects of the policies and programs differ from one community or geographic location to the next.
  • Jonathan Schertzer, assistant professor, biochemistry & biomedical sciences, will be using his $228,301 award for Infrastructure for an immunometabolism laboratory. We now know that inflammation is an important part of diseases caused by obesity and that targeting inflammation is a new way of fighting obesity and its related conditions such as diabetes. Schertzer’s lab will investigate the underlying bacterial and immune causes that link obesity to diseases such as diabetes through inflammation. The aim of Schertzer’s research program is to discover new diagnostics and therapeutics by understanding how the bacteria that live in our gut and the food we eat cause inflammation during obesity.


In the photo from left to right: Pierre Normand, VP External Relations & Communications, Canada Foundation for Innovation; The Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State for Science and Technology; Professor Jennifer Heisz; MP David Sweet; Professor Jerry Hurley; Professor Victor Kuperman; Professor Abigail Payne; Professor Fei Chang; President Patrick Deane 

Photo Credit: Ron Scheffler