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York’s World Leading Vision Research Program Receives Canada’s Premiere Grant

York’s World Leading Vision Research Program Receives Canada’s Premiere Grant

York University’s world class expertise in vision research is recognized with the nation’s top federal research funding award, the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, to the tune of $33 million.

A landmark investment in research was announced on September 8, 2016, at York University. On this day, the government of Canada acknowledged York’s expertise in vision research with Canada’s most prestigious research grant. A $33.3 million Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) grant will support the Vision: Science to Applications (VISTA) program. The investment supports research across a wide range of applications of vision science, from basic visual function, to computer vision and object recognition, and more.

Judy Sgro, Member of Parliament (MP) for Humber River-Black Creek was joined by York University’s Vice-President of Research and Innovation, Robert Haché, and York’s VISTA program scientific director, Doug Crawford, to announce the $33.3 million boost.

Photo of VISTA Group

Left to right: Pat Clifford, Director of Research & Innovation, Southlake Regional Health Centre; Spiros Pagiatakis, Associate Dean, Research & Graduate Studies, Lassonde School of Engineering; Piotr Jasiobedzki, MDA Corporation; VISTA’s Lead PI: Doug Crawford, Faculty of Health and the Centre for Vision Research; Judy Sgro, MP, Humber River-Black Creek; Robert Haché, Vice-President Research & Innovation, York University; Gary Brewer, Vice-President of Finance and Administration, York University; and Paul W. McDonald, York University’s Dean of Health. Photo credit: Jenny Pitt-Clark, YFile editor.


“The Liberal government is committed to science based policy because we know that good science informs good policy and good policy delivers positive results for all Canadians,” said MP Sgro. “Today is a real world example of what that commitment means right here at home. This funding will advance Canada's global leadership in vision research and in doing so promises long-term economic benefits for all of us.”

Photo of MP Judy Sgro

Judy Sgro, MP, Humber River-Black Creek. Photo credit: Lia Cavaliere, Research Events Coordinator, Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation.

“We are delighted that the federal government has selected York’s VISTA project for support through the CFREF,” said Mamdouh Shoukri, President and Vice-Chancellor of York University. “Our Centre for Vision Research is an international leader in the field, and an excellent example of the kind of innovation that can be achieved through high-level collaboration across many disciplines. This investment will allow our globally renowned researchers to continue their important work in advancing discovery in vision technologies and biological and computational vision.”

York’s VISTA program will contribute to the next generation of industry-ready highly qualified personnel for Canada, supporting 226 additional graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.

"Today’s investment builds on York's existing global leadership in vision research, and will help take us to the next frontier in vision science at the interface between humans and technology,” said Haché. “This research builds on two of York's major intersecting pillars of research excellence - biological and computational vision - and will lead to human-centred computer vision applications that seamlessly interact with the real world to improve health, safety, productivity and quality of life."

Photo of MP Judy Sgro and MPRI Rob Haché

Judy Sgro, MP, Humber River-Black Creek, and Robert Haché, Vice-President Research & Innovation, York University. Photo credit: Lia Cavaliere, Research Events Coordinator, Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation.

“I am thrilled by the Canadian government’s announcement of funding for York’s VISTA program,” said Crawford. “We have grown to rank in the top 5 in the world, and offer uniquely integrated strengths in both biological and computational vision. I look forward with great enthusiasm to reaching new heights of discovery and application for Canadian vision research.”

When fully ramped up, VISTA will include more than 50 partner organizations, 30 Canada Research Chairs and equivalents, eleven additional core faculty members, and 48 associated faculty members.  The investments for VISTA, including York University and partner funding will total more than $120 million.

York University is known for championing new ways of thinking that drive teaching and research excellence. Through cross-discipline programming, innovative course design, diverse experiential learning and a supportive community environment, our students receive the education they need to create big ideas that make an impact on the world. Located in Toronto, York is the third largest university in Canada, with a strong community of 53,000 students, 7,000 faculty and administrative staff, and more than 295,000 alumni.