Rising stars from uOttawa and affiliates win Early Researcher Awards for cutting-edge studies

Posted on Wednesday, May 9, 2012

OTTAWA, May 9, 2012 — Prominent scientists from the University of Ottawa, the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) and the University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI) will share a total of $840 000 awarded by the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation to support their respective research projects related to cancer treatment, heart disease, hearing loss in children, disaster planning and invasive species.

The funding was announced as part of the Early Researcher Awards program, which will see a total of $8.68 million awarded to support institutions across Ontario. Prominent young researchers will use the money to recruit students, research fellows, technicians and assistants to build outstanding research teams and gain a solid competitive edge for Ontario and Canada.

The four researchers from uOttawa:

Maxim V. Berezovski
Research project: Discovery of functional aptamers targeting cells receptors
Professor Maxim Berezovski of the Faculty of Science is developing technology to be used to recognize cancer cells, track their position and eliminate them without harming normal cells. This work will significantly improve diagnosis and treatment in cancer patients.

Elizabeth Fitzpatrick
Research project: Beyond Screening: Towards understanding the effects of mild bilateral and unilateral hearing loss on children in the early school years
Hearing loss in infancy and early childhood can lead to problems at school.  Faculty of Health Sciences professor Elizabeth Fitzpatrick is evaluating the effectiveness of early identification in children affected with mild forms of hearing loss. Her work will help to develop better programs for these children.

Tracey Lynn O’Sullivan
Research project: Mapping organizational assets to enhance disaster resilience: A salutogenic approach to business continuity planning
The tsunami in Japan and the Slave Lake fire in Alberta are recent reminders of the importance of planning for, responding to and recovering from major emergencies. Professor Tracey O’Sullivan from the Faculty of Health Sciences is looking at ways the public and private sectors can work together to improve disaster planning.

Risa Donn Sargent
Research project: Adaptation in invasive species management
Harmful invasive species—non-native plants, animals and other organisms that can hurt the economy, environment or health—are a growing problem. Dealing with them could cost governments billions of dollars a year.  Faculty of Science professor Risa Sargent is exploring the feasibility and long-term impacts of using biocontrol, or “natural enemy” solutions, to combat this growing problem.

The two researchers from uOttawa affiliates:

Dr. Rebecca Craufurd Auer
Research project: A translational approach to targeting natural killer cells in the perioperative period with innovative cancer therapies
More than 30,000 Ontarians undergo cancer surgery each year, but, in many cases, the cancer returns. At the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Dr. Rebecca Auer hopes to prevent this by developing new cancer treatments that stimulate the immune system around the time of surgery.

Dr. Darryl Davis
Research project: Next generation cardiac stem cell therapies for congestive heart failure
At the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, Dr. Darryl Davis is exploring new ways to treat heart failure using a patient’s own heart stem cells. His work could lead to a life-saving therapy for the more than 500,000 Canadians living with congestive heart failure—and strengthen the reputation Ontario and Canada hold as a leader in cardiac research and care.

The University of Ottawa is committed to research excellence and encourages an interdisciplinary approach to knowledge creation, which attracts the best academic talent from across Canada and around the world. It is an important stakeholder in the National Capital Region’s economic development.

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