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CFI awards York researchers $274,000 in funding

CFI awards York researchers $274,000 in funding

Funding will support three projects in biology, kinesiology and psychology

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) has awarded York University $274,689 in infrastructure funding to support the research of three York professors.

Olivier Birot, professor in the School of Kinesiology & Health Science in York's Faculty of Health and a member of the Muscle Health Research Centre, will receive $79,260 to support his research on muscle microcirculation in health and diseases. Birot’s research examines how peripheral vascular disease (PVD) affects key molecular mechanisms that regulate the formation of blood vessels in muscles. PVD is characterized by insufficient blood supply in leg muscles, leading to suffering, reduced mob ility and eventually amputation.  PVD affects more than one million Canadians and is a frequent complication for patients with obesity, Type 2 diabetes or chronic heart failure.

Right: Olivier Birot

Nicholas Cepeda, professor in the Department of Psychology in the Faculty of Health, will receive $100,777 to establish a developmental cognitive neuroscience laboratory for research on learning and memory, cognitive flexibility and musical training. His research has shown a 300 per cent improvement in students’ long-term recall of factual information, merely by changing the timing of when a particular curriculum item is taught and re-taught − with no increase in teaching time. The project’s musical training research will provide information about the brain functions of musicians and non-musicians, including processing speed, working memory, inhibition, attentional control and task-switching skills.

Left: Nicholas Cepeda

Suraj Unniappan, professor and a Canadian Institutes of Health Research New Investigator in the Department of Biology in York's Faculty of Science & Engineering, will receive $94,652 to support multi-faceted research in integrative neuroendocrinology and physiology. His research on the neuroendocrine regulation of growth, reproduction and body weight in fish could help aquaculture industry to improve the feeding, growth and reproduction of cultured fish. The funding also provides critical equipment for cutting-edge research on the neuroendocrine defects underlying diabetes and obesity, and may help to develop innovative pharmacological and cell-based therapies to help Canadians and others in their fight against these metabolic diseases.

Left: Suraj Unniappan

“These projects demonstrate York’s excellence in health and science research,” said Stan Shapson, vice-president research & innovation. “The questions Professor Birot's and Cepeda's projects explore concerning muscle health and learning and cognition reflect the relevance and disciplinary strengths of our psychology and kinesiology researchers, while Professor Unniappan's project illustrates the industrial applications that may flow from support for basic research. We fully support the importance of the CFI’s investments in state-of-the-art infrastructure and the world-class research they enable at York.”

York’s projects were part of a $61-million investment in CFI's Leaders Opportunity Fund, which provides Canadian researchers with the necessary tools to carry out a range of frontier research. The funding supports 339 leading researchers and 245 projects at 48 Canadian research institutions.

Gary Goodyear, minister of state (science & technology), made the announcement in Ottawa, Ontario on Jan. 21. “Supporting science is key to Canada’s future economic growth,” said Goodyear. “Our government's commitment to helping universities attract and retain world-leading research talent will lead to discoveries that improve Canadians' quality of life and create new jobs."

“Access to modern, cutting-edge equipment and facilities is imperative in the 21st century," said Gilles Patry, president & CEO of the CFI. “For more than a decade, the CFI has provided thousands of world-class researchers with the tools they need to do their work. Without the right infrastructure, they simply wouldn't be in Canada.”

A complete list of CFI recipients is available on the CFI website.

By Elizabeth Monier-Williams, research communications officer, with files courtesy of Janice Walls and Melissa Hughes