uOttawa research receives $23-million boost from the Canada Foundation for Innovation

Posted on Wednesday, March 3, 2021

 Ghassan Jabbour, Yves-Alain Peter (Polytechnique Montréal), Glen Kenny, Ioan Nistor and Colin Rennie

First row, from left to right: Pierre Berini, Karin Hinzer, Peter Liu and Ruth Slack

Second row, from left to right: Ghassan Jabbour, Yves-Alain Peter (Polytechnique Montréal), Glen Kenny, Ioan Nistor and Colin Rennie

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, supported by François-Philippe Champagne, minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, has announced more than $518 million in research infrastructure funding for post-secondary institutions across Canada.

University of Ottawa researchers have been tremendously successful in this latest round of funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). Five projects (of eight submitted) received a total of more than $23 million from the 2020 Innovation Fund.

“At more than 60%, our success rate is one of the highest in this important competition,” said Vice-President, Research Sylvain Charbonneau. “We are very proud of our researchers’ impressive accomplishments and are grateful to the Canada Foundation for Innovation for enabling them to acquire the state-of-the art equipment and facilities they need to pursue collaborative research projects that are making their mark on a global scale.”

Moreover, two University of Ottawa projects — one in photonics and the other in neurocardiology — are among 23 nationwide to have received an “exceptional project” designation from the CFI.

“The University of Ottawa is home to world-leading research that will help build a more inclusive, prosperous and healthy post-pandemic Canada. I am proud that our government is supporting this research,” said Mona Fortier, Minister of Middle Class Prosperity, Associate Minister of Finance and MP for Ottawa-Vanier. “Congratulations to all researchers, we are so proud of the innovation happening right here in the Nation’s capital!”

The Innovation Fund invests in research infrastructure for fundamental and applied research up to technology development, funding up to 40% of a project’s total eligible infrastructure costs. Innovation Fund competitions are held approximately every two years.

The funded projects are co-led by:

Pierre Berini and Karin Hinzer (Faculty of Engineering)

Professors Pierre Berini and Karin Hinzer are leading a team of researchers exploring how photonics — the science and technology of light — will continue to transform our lives. Underpinning innovations such as mobile phone displays and medical imaging, photonics will be critical in the future for enabling biosensors for point-of-care diagnostics, autonomous driving and environmental monitoring, among many other applications. The research program proposes to further the miniaturization and integration of advanced photonic materials and fabrication processes that are of interest to various industrial sectors, including telecommunications, health care, manufacturing and energy.

Peter Liu and Ruth Slack (Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa Brain and Mind Research Institute and University of Ottawa Heart Institute)

Heart disease and brain and mind disorders affect more than six million Canadians. They are often connected, yet they are usually treated as separate conditions, even when they co-occur in the same patient. Patients with heart failure, for instance, are at an increased risk for depression, cognitive impairment and sleep disorders. Led by professors Peter Liu and Ruth Slack, the Hub for Cardio-Neuro-Mind Research aims to better understand how brain and heart diseases co-occur. The researchers are working to develop new screening tools for early disease detection, as well as new drugs and psychological therapies. They also plan to create a neurocardiac care model where all cardiac patients are screened for brain disease (and vice versa for brain disease patients) and treated with both conditions in mind.

Ghassan Jabbour (Faculty of Engineering) and Yves-Alain Peter (Polytechnique Montréal)

This partnership between academia and industry aims to understand the interactions between thin films and interfaces of various hybrid materials and to integrate them with established technologies. Its mission is to accelerate the transition from materials development to prototype production. The research has the potential to revolutionize technological innovations such as low-cost antimicrobial smart textile applications for various uses, including personal protective equipment (PPE) that can limit the spread of COVID; labels that detect food spoilage and airborne pathogens; biometric sensors embedded in textiles that can identify disease in human sweat for early detection and prevention; and catalysts that convert CO2 and other waste products into usable fuels.

Glen Kenny (Faculty of Health Sciences) and Carolyn Tateishi (Health Canada)

Temperatures are rising faster in Canada than in other regions of the world and the economic impact of heat as it affects human health is mounting. It is estimated that some provinces may face costs of more than $33 billion over the next 50 years for heat-related health care. This research program draws together global experts and the infrastructure required to conduct world-class transformational research to assess the human factors affecting an individual’s tolerance to heat. The CFI funding will help upgrade the world’s only air calorimeter, housed at the University of Ottawa, which precisely measures the heat dissipated by the human body. This includes the installation of a transformable temperature-controlled chamber enabling assessment of the human response to heat under different living and working exposure scenarios. Research goals include the creation of international standard-setting heat protection solutions that will safeguard the health and well-being of all Canadians.

Ioan Nistor and Colin Rennie (Faculty of Engineering)

The frequency and intensity of natural disasters has been increasing over the past few decades at an alarming rate, with floods and extreme storms and hurricanes as the most recurrent calamities globally. Professors Ioan Nistor and Colin Rennie are leading an international team of academics and government and industry experts looking at ways to mitigate and prevent damage and loss of life from water-related hazards. Their proposed Multi-Hazards Simulator (MHS) for Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure, to be located at the Water Resources Laboratory in the University’s STEM Complex, would be the world’s only experimental research facility featuring a submerged seismic table to model the effects of submarine earthquakes, a custom-designed wave generator to create tsunami-like waves, and a sediment recirculation system to simulate river and coastal morphodynamic processes. It will also be equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation, including a Particle Image Velocimetry System, a submerged LIDAR rover and other cutting-edge data acquisition systems.

Read the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s media release

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