PARADIGM-SHIFTING RESEARCH FOR THE GREATER GLOBAL GOOD: SETTING THE STAGE FOR OUR FUTURE DIRECTION
From the outset, McMaster has been known for its pioneering spirit and ability to look at the world in new and unique ways.
From becoming the first university in the Commonwealth to house a nuclear reactor to our radical notion of problem-based learning and evidence-based medicine that revolutionized the way health professionals learn and practice, McMaster’s outstanding researchers have had extraordinary success in achieving outcomes that have deep- and far-reaching impact on health, prosperity, and the future of our planet. We’ve achieved success on the strength of our researchers and the deployment of Canada Research Chairs in these areas of excellence.
While not exhaustive, there are some the key areas — human health and social determinants; Indigenous research and inquiry; sustainability for global prosperity; and materials and the built society — where our researchers are delivering new knowledge, new tools, and new solutions to meet our most pressing global challenges.
INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE AND RESEARCH
More than a century of colonial policy has resulted in Indigenous communities suffering unequal standards of living in terms of access to clean water, health services, and education compared to that of non- Indigenous Canadians. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) describes this policy, with residential schools at its core, as “cultural genocide.” Continual under funding of education, social and health services, and housing has affected every sphere of Indigenous peoples’ lives. Indigenous women, in particular, have withstood the worst of these impacts. Consequently, the federal government has acknowledged the racialized violence experienced by Indigenous women and recently launched the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
The TRC Report outlines a number of principles and Calls to Action that address the inequities that Indigenous peoples have faced in this country, historically and in the present. Indigenous communities believe that the “truth” requires genuine engagement between Canadian institutions and the Indigenous populations they often underserve before real reconciliation can begin. The TRC describes “reconciliation” as an ongoing process of establishing and maintaining respectful relationships at all levels of Canadian society, and academic research is one primary site where this must occur.
Indigenous ways of knowing are differentiated by unique, sophisticated, and complex systems of knowledge across Indigenous communities within and beyond Canada. As distinctive Indigenous theories and methodologies continue to emerge, Indigenist research is becoming increasingly global, while remaining dependent on localized, community-engaged relationships. Of primary importance is the well-being of Indigenous communities and of research that emerges from cultural knowledge and Indigenous ways of knowing. Indigenous communities’ engagement also plays a primary role in guiding the ethics, parameters, and dissemination of Indigenous-focused research.
How will research questions and objectives be informed by Indigenous communities? In what ways can land-based pedagogies and ways of knowing translate into research within an academic setting? How will academic disciplines within the University be transformed by Indigenous research?
With the establishment of the McMaster Indigenous Research Institute (MIRI) in 2016, Indigenous research at McMaster will build upon its already strong relationships with local Indigenous communities and will be better supported at the development, implementation, and reporting stages. MIRI will also allow for the facilitation of an expanded body of work carried out by research teams that will support the advancement of Indigenous community-driven research in partnership with academic researchers, while working towards a more equitable environment for Indigenous researchers. Furthermore, MIRI will encourage and support research carried out by traditional cultural practitioners in addition to academics. As Indigenous-focused research continues to emerge and re-situate the voice of Indigenous peoples and communities in research questions and outcomes, MIRI will encourage and facilitate Indigenous research both locally and globally.
SUSTAINABILITY FOR GLOBAL PROSPERITY
Building sustainable communities is more than ensuring safe water and sanitation, fighting climate change or developing innovative smart grid solutions. It engages citizens to maintain and design livable environments that provide access to infrastructure, amenities, social services, and job opportunities for all. It requires fair and just societies, where human rights are protected and where true democracy allows for freedom of speech and expression. Most importantly, it ensures we manage today’s resources for the benefit of future generations. McMaster researchers are at the forefront of this global effort:
- McMaster is home to the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health, a pre-eminent think tank in the fight against the global water crisis;
- The McMaster Centre for Climate Change is connecting science, technology, and policy to deliver a broad range of local and global climate change solutions;
- Researchers in the MacData Institute are collecting data to allow communities to measure how well they serve their citizens;
- The Institute for Globalization and the Human Condition and The Wilson Institute for Canadian History are looking to the past to better understand the social inequalities, globalized economies and looming wars of the 21st Century;
- The McMaster Digital Transformation Research Centre is focused on the leadership and management of digital transformation and its impact on people, organizations, and society;
- McMaster’s Research Facility for Integrated Building Energy Harvesting Systems is focusing on community energy management, integrated sustainable energy systems and energy harvesting and storage, and remains the only facility in North America testing new ways to capture energy that is lost during transport to our homes and communities;
- The McMaster Institute for Transportation and Logistics is helping industry and civic leaders develop smarter, more cost-efficient transportation strategies;
- The Canada Excellence Research Chair in Hybrid Powertrain Program is pioneering sustainable energy-efficient solutions from advanced power electronic converters and electric motor drives to electric, hybrid electric, and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and working to alleviate the loss of performance of lithium ion batteries over time;
- McMaster’s Institute on Ethics and Policy for Innovation is working to ensure decisions around climate, food security and health are equitable shared and sustained.Spanning disciplines as diverse as biology, economics, sociology, management, civil engineering, and public policy, our work in sustainability is leading to the development of new technologies that are not only innovative and lead to prosperity, but are also culturally and socially acceptable and will reduce our footprint on the planet and ensure its health for generations to come.
MATERIALS AND THE BUILT SOCIETY
Everything is built from something. The materials we produce and the way in which they are used, affect every aspect of our lives—our health, home, work, and play. From the study of new steel alloys to neutrons and silicon chips, from the safety and efficacy of our roads to the strength of our bridges, from advanced robotics to smart cars, our ability to understand the behaviour of materials and how they are produced is fundamental to the modern world.
Our technologies are helping in the development of safe, smart communities. We’re creating new materials and devising innovative applications for them. And we continue to be called upon by industry and government leaders for our manufacturing expertise.
- McMaster is home to North America’s largest materials facility, the Brockhouse Institute for Materials Research, whose advanced equipment is being used to create new materials for everything from solar cells to drug delivery;
- The Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization, based at McMaster, is a world leader in the development and commercialization of molecular imaging probes to detect cancer;
- The McMaster Automotive Resource Centre is accelerating research on electrified and autonomous vehicles, and identifying light materials to make cars more fuel efficient;
- McMaster’s Biointerfaces Institute and Fraunhofer Project Centre for Biomedical Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing are at the forefront of cutting-edge research to deliver next-generation cell therapies and point-of-care diagnostics;
- McMaster’s Centre for Emerging Device Technologies is using silicon chip technology to create new, faster, and more efficient ways of processing information;
- The McMaster Manufacturing Research Institute is one of the country’s most advanced and best-equipped research laboratories designed to meet the sophisticated needs of leading manufacturers;
- The macGRID Simulation Research Network houses technologies to facilitate urban planning through the development of virtual cities;
- The McMaster Institute for Multi-Hazard Systemic Risk Studies develops systemic risk-based tools to enhance the resilience of our built and natural environment systems in Canada and around the world.
These and other premier facilities combine to offer an exceptional environment for the creation of new knowledge and the incubation of new discoveries that are strengthening Canada’s competitiveness and enhancing the quality of our lives at every level.
HUMAN HEALTH & SOCIAL DETERMINANTS
From basic science to drug screening, from clinical research to policy development, McMaster is a leader in advancing global health. Our researchers have developed cutting-edge surgical procedures, discovered new molecules, and conducted scores of clinical trials to ensure the safety and efficacy of novel therapies and technologies. They’re also leading some of the world’s largest population health studies; addressing policy issues related to childhood disability and mental health; shedding light on the role of microbes in disease; improving healthcare delivery and management; and helping people live well for longer.
Working at the interface of chemistry and biology, medicine, engineering, management, the social sciences, and environmental and life sciences, multifaceted teams of researchers are devising breakthrough solutions to some of our most complex health challenges. Many are partnering with local community health care agencies, ensuring best practices derived from their research are benefiting the end user and having a profound impact. A few of many prominent examples include:
- Researchers in McMaster’s Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute are turning blood cells into brain cells to create new treatments for cancer and autism;
- The Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research is a leader in the global fight against some of the world’s deadliest superbugs, including C. difficile and antibiotic-resistant staph infections;
- Researchers in the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute are revolutionizing patient care for diseases of the gastrointestinal tract;
- Researchers in the McMaster Institute for Healthier Environments are providing leadership to partner organizations to develop informed policy and action on environmental and health issues;
- The McMaster Health Forum is a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Evidence-Informed Policy committed to strengthening health systems around the world;
- Researchers at McMaster’s Institute for Music and the Mind are exposing the profound effect of music on the brain that could lead to new therapies for autism and Parkinson’s;
- The McMaster Institute for Research on Aging, together with the Labarge Centre for Mobility in Aging, is conducting cutting-edge interdisciplinary research to enhance optimal aging;
- The Population Health Research Institute is Canada’s premiere global health research institute with an unmatched capacity to conduct several international studies concurrently, having enrolled almost 1,000,000 participants worldwide;
- Researchers in McMaster’s Physical Activity Centre of Excellence are improving the health and well-being of older adults and people with chronic disease and disability;
- Researchers in the Offord Centre for Child Studies and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences are leaders in patient care and health policy related to mental health and addiction;
- The Michael G. DeGroote Health Leadership Academy aims to revolutionize healthcare through entrepreneurship, change management, digital transformation, innovation and education;
- McMaster’s Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis brings numerous disciplinary perspectives to its work with specific emphases on the economic, political, sociological, and historical analysis of health, health care, and health systems;
- McMaster is home to several large-scale longitudinal cohort studies with national and international reach including the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging, the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development Study, and the Prospective Rural and Urban Epidemiological Study.
These on-going, multidisciplinary research activities within our unique research centres and institutes ensure that our work is making a difference in the health and well-being of citizens at home and around the world.