New fund supports early career researchers conducting avant-garde research


The New Frontiers in Research Fund, a new initiative of Canada’s three research granting agencies, is geared toward early career researchers conducting “interdisciplinary, fast-breaking and high-risk research." 

The University of Ottawa and its affiliated research institutes received more than $2.6 million in this inaugural competition.

Recipients from the Faculty of Medicine are:

Kin Chan, Faculty of Medicine

Climate change is a serious challenge to humankind. A major contributor is fossil fuel use. Kin Chan’s objective is to accelerate the development of more advanced yeasts to produce bioethanol from plant waste biomass more efficiently and cheaply. His approach is based on his understanding of DNA damage and mutation in cancers.

Marceline Côté, Faculty of Medicine

CRISPR, a genome editing technology, has garnered a lot of attention due to its potential application in the treatment of various genetic diseases. But there are still shortcomings in the technology’s in vivo applications. In this project, Marceline Côté,Suresh Gadde and Morgan Fullerton aim to use the power of viruses with nano-biomaterials to develop CRISPR-based nanomedicines for gene editing. The long-term goal is to provide therapeutic solutions to genetic diseases for which no treatment is currently available.

Maxime Rousseaux, Faculty of Medicine

The brain’s incredible complexity can, in part, be attributed to the diverse number of cells that populate it. For Maxime Rousseaux, it is vital to understand in which cell system a given gene plays a role to understand its function and how it goes awry in disease. But current techniques to identify cells of origin are limited and costly. The objective of this research is to harness CRISPR-Cas9, 3D tissue imaging and data mining and visualization to overcome these limitations, and ultimately advance research into Parkinson’s disease.

The recipients from affiliated research institutes include:

Emilio Alarcon, University of Ottawa Heart Institute

Heart diseases are the number one cause of premature death in Canada. Heart patches that conduct electricity have proven useful for improving cardiac function after a heart attack in animal models, but they are impractical in humans because each patch must be customized. Emilio Alarcon and his team are working on developing a hand-held bio-printing device that would produce heart patches on the spot, allowing surgeons to apply the patch directly to the damaged region of the heart. This tool could save thousands of lives in Canada and millions of dollars in health care costs.

Virginie Cobigo, CHEO Research Institute

Making technology more accessible to persons with cognitive disabilities (CD) is at the core of Virginie Cobigo’s research. This project proposes to engage them as partners in research and development (R&D) processes to improve technologies and increase the likelihood that persons with CD will adopt them. The goal is to implement an inclusive approach to R&D, and to analyze the factors that could further a systemic transformation.

Read the full article prepared by the Office of the VP Research.

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