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Government of Canada invests $6.7M in Canada Research Chairs at McMaster

By Danelle D'Alvise, Research Communications
October 20, 2011

With the support of the Canada Research Chairs program, McMaster will ensure eight stellar researchers will continue to pursue their research programs in the Faculties of Health Science, Science and Engineering. The federal government recently announced the University's latest allocation of funding for four new Chairs, an advancement of one Chair to Tier 1 status and three Chairs renewed for another term.

"Retaining these talented individuals means that our University can reap the benefits of their new ideas and their contributions to issues of health, public safety and the economy," said Mo Elbestawi, vice-president research and international affairs. "Their research will further enrich McMaster's reputation as a world-class research institution, where the next generation of scholars and scientists are mentored, challenged and provided with the tools needed to contribute to an innovative society."

McMaster now boasts 62 Chairs from an allocation of 69 CRCs - the third highest allocation in Ontario and ninth in Canada.

Sonia Anand
, Canada Research Chair in Ethnic Diversity and Cardiovascular Disease, will use her Tier 1 Chair to examine high risk populations to provide greater insight into the causes and risk factors of cardiovascular disease. Her research could eventually lead to the development of prevention strategies to stem the leading cause of premature deaths in ethnic populations.

The collaborative and multidisciplinary research of behavioural ecologist Sigal Balshine will be furthered with the renewal of her Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Aquatic Behavioural Ecology.
Balshine, an associate professor in psychology, neuroscience & behaviour, seeks to broaden our understanding of complex social behaviours and to clarify the roles played by a species life history, demography, genetics and physiology.

Biochemist  Brian Coombes has been awarded a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Infectious Disease Pathogenesis to investigate how major enteric pathogens - the organisms that enter our bodies and cause serious problems with our gastrointestinal systems - infect humans, and how human and environmental activities influence the evolution of these infectious diseases.

During his first term as Canada Research Chair in Foundations of Software Engineering Tom Maibaum has helped put McMaster at the forefront of software certification research - an area crucial to the future safe use of software-based systems in medical, nuclear, financial and
automotive applications. He will continue his research program to focus on the
 regulation and certification of software intensive systems (SIS), develop industrial-scale,
model-driven engineering frameworks for the automotive industry and establish a model driven engineering approach to the management of workflow in health related applications and domains.

Chemical engineer Prashant Mhaskar, will undertake research to develop innovative control and
systems tools to improve the efficiency, sustainability and safety of chemical plants. His new Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Nonlinear and Fault Tolerant Control will address major fundamental challenges in process controls, and create new opportunities to improve the operation of complex operational systems in the chemical processing industry.

Yurij Mozharivskyj's, renewed Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Solid State Chemistry of
Responsive Materials will allow him to continue his original and internationally-recognized research program focusing on the responsive solid-state materials. He will focus primarily on the study of new materials with targeted properties for large scale industrial and environmental benefits.

Ravi Selvaganapathy will use his newly-awarded Canada Research Chair in Biomicrofluidics (Tier 2) to utilize his expertise in the design, fabrication and development of microdevices for application in biology and medicine. The associate professor of mechanical engineering controls and manipulates fluids, particles and organisms on the microscopic scale, using methods that can accelerate the discovery of new drugs, controlled and pain free delivery of medicines, and for monitoring pathogens in water.

During his tenure as Canada Research Chair in Health Services Research in Cancer (Tier
2), radiation oncologist Tim Whelan  served at the forefront of radiation therapy research, leading randomized trials that evaluated novel radiation regimens in breast cancer, changing cancer treatment practice  not just in Canada, but across North America. His research successes have propelled Whelan to a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair Breast Cancer Research, where he will forge
new paths in the study of the biomarkers that indicate the presence of a cancerous tumour to determine if they can be used to help individualize the treatment of early breast cancer to lessen the toxicity and cost of unnecessary treatment.

Whelan will also continue to conduct clinical trials to optimize radiation therapy for women with breast cancer and evaluate new technologies in radiation therapy.

"Our government is investing in the people and ideas that will keep Canada at the forefront of the global economy," said Minister of State for Science and Technology, Gary Goodyear. "The Canada Research Chairs are helping to develop, attract and retain the world's top researchers here in our country."

Tier 1 Chairs, tenable for seven years and renewable, are for outstanding researchers acknowledged by their peers as world leaders in their fields. For each Tier 1 Chair, the
university receives $200,000 annually for seven years.

Tier 2 Chairs, tenable for five years and renewable once, are for exceptional emerging researchers, acknowledged by their peers as having the potential to lead in their field.
For each Tier 2 Chair, the university receives $100,000 annually for five years.