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Enhancing our Research Enterprise

Major Research Platforms

McMaster recognizes that access to research platforms with specialized equipment and technical expertise is essential to advancing basic research and competing on the world’s research stage. Across our campus—from department-based laboratories to suites of equipment housed within centres and institutes to state-of-the-art national research facilities— our platforms provide our researchers the cutting-edge methods and tools required to impact their fields of research, and enhance Canada’s national research landscape.

Housed within the Brockhouse Institute for Materials Research, the Canadian Centre for Electron Microscopy (CCEM) provides world-class microscopy capabilities, expertise and training to researchers and industry from across Canada. CCEM is living up to its vision: serving as one of the leading electron microscopy facilities in the world for the quality of scientific research, promoting interactions amongst researchers in various fields on an international level.

McMaster serves as the headquarters of the Canadian Research Data Centre Network (CRDCN), recognized and funded as one of Canada’s major science initiatives. This network provides a high-performance computing platform to meet national needs on data processing, security, and storage. In partnership with Statistics Canada, the CRDCN provides a vast array of social, economic, and health confidential microdata to universities, governments, and collaborators.

McMaster University also serves as the National Coordinating Center for the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA). The CLSA is a Canada-wide, long-term study that will follow 50,000 Canadians aged 45 and above for at least 20 years, with the goal of finding ways to help Canadians live long and live well.

The McMaster Nuclear Reactor (MNR) is one of the University’s most unique research platforms. Built in 1959, it was the first university reactor in the British Commonwealth, and it remains the most powerful research reactor at a Canadian university.

The MNR supports research across a range of disciplines, from biological and medical research and the production of medical isotopes—one of only two producers of iodine-125, a radioisotope used to treat prostate cancer—to material composition and neutron and gamma scattering. It’s where researchers and students study nuclear safety and where the aerospace industry tests for flaws in turbine blades and corrosion of aircraft components. And, it’s the core research facility from which two new Canadian biotech start-ups were born.

MNR is a central feature of Canada’s scientific landscape. With the closure of the National Research Universal (NRU) reactor at Chalk River Laboratories—Canada’s primary facility for neutron-based research—MNR will be the country’s sole nuclear research facility above low thermal power. Plans are underway to increase the MNR’s capacity in order to support research programs that will be lost with the closure of the NRU.

Research platforms allow us to make paradigm-shifting discoveries but, regardless of whether they are housed within a department, faculty, or serve as Canada-wide centres, they come with significant capital and operating costs.

  • We will develop a university-wide approach to manage and support research platforms in a sustainable fashion.
  • We will develop an inventory of all major research equipment and its use and strategically consolidate infrastructure and associated expertise to ensure maximum use of resources and appropriate planning for renewal.
  • We will connect researchers with professional writers, paid external reviewers, and others who can assist in the development of high-quality grant applications for major infrastructure.
  • We will work with business officers and the Office of the Vice-President, Administration, to calculate, for each major platform, the true total operating costs, projected use, and sources of funding to ensure sustainable business models.
  • We will enhance the core services offered by the Research and High-Performance Computing Support group to better support the burgeoning use of research and advanced computing by developing a more cohesive and comprehensive digital research strategy that is aligned, across the institution, across the province, and across the country.