NSERC CREATE Grant for FoM researchers boosts burgeoning field of metabolomics
Congratulations to our Faculty of Medicine researchers for being awarded a 2018 NSERC CREATE grant. The announcement was made on Monday, July 16 in Sherbrooke, Québec by Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities.
Dr. Mary-Ellen Harper of the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology and nine co-applicants, including Drs. Steffany Bennett, Julie St-Pierre, Mathieu Lavallée-Adam, Ted Perkins, Yan Burelle, and Keir Menzies have received an NSERC CREATE grant for a project titled Metabolomics Advanced Training and International Exchange (CREATE-MATRIX). The amount of the award is $1,650,000 over six years. CREATE-MATRIX will be directed by Dr. Harper and co-directed by Dr. Steffany Bennett and brings together a core team of experts based at the University of Ottawa, Université de Montréal, and McGill University in collaboration with their international industrial and academic partners.
Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) Programs are supported by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and improve the mentoring of, and training environment for, the Canadian researchers of tomorrow by improving areas such as communication, collaboration and professional skills; and providing experience relevant to both academic and non-academic research environments.
The specific goal of MATRIX is to train the next generation of leaders for customized career paths in the field of metabolomics, bioenergetics and bioinformatics.
Metabolomics is a burgeoning field that applies sophisticated technologies to identify and quantify metabolites within samples, including cells, tissues and biological fluids. Metabolites reflect the body’s activities and comprise a wide variety of chemicals, aiding in the understanding of both healthy and diseased states. Because metabolomics generates large and complex data sets, specialized analytical methods are required. Advertised positions in metabolomics (e.g., food sciences, biofuels, regulatory and safety laboratories, biotech companies, academia) have increased exponentially in recent years, but there are no comprehensive training programs nationally.
In response to the shortage of specially trained researchers, Dr. Harper and her co-applicants, in consultation with industrial and academic collaborators, devised MATRIX, a program that will provide over 100 students with advanced skills and knowledge to meet the current needs and drive future ventures in metabolomics.
CREATE-MATRIX will deliver scientific and professional training customized for each student's career path goals. With matching support from industrial partners, international collaborators and participating universities, MATRIX will provide novel integrative hands-on and course-based programming with exciting opportunities to intern with leading international industrial collaborators. Graduates will be empowered with the scientific knowledge, hands-on skills and professional capacities that are coveted by companies to fill an exponentially growing number of positions.
“Collectively, we are thrilled about, and grateful for, the support that has been granted to us to deliver this unique program,” says Dr. Harper.
Main photo: Human cell in which the mitochondria are stained using immunofluorescence. Mitochondria are the metabolic powerhouses in cells. Photo courtesy Skye McBride, Cell Biology and Image Aqcuisition Core Facility.