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U of T researchers awarded $5.2 million in funding for cutting-edge research

Professor and students in lab

Yoav Finer (seated) with some of his Dentistry students (photo by Jeff Comber, Faculty of Dentistry)

A dentist intent on creating a more robust filling for cavities is among 19 U of T researchers sharing $5.2 million in new federal funding.

“Investments like today’s in Canada’s research infrastructure are incredibly important to the nation’s future,” said federal Science Minister Kirsty Duncan, who congratulated the researchers at an event held Friday at the U of T Mississauga campus.

“They give Canadian researchers the tools they need to make new discoveries that will better the lives of Canadians today and for years to come.”

(Below: Duncan and Assistant Professor Adriano Senatore/photo by Canadian Press via Industry Canada)

photo of Duncan at microscope

The investment was made by the Government of Canada through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund, which is designed to help universities attract and retain the best and brightest researchers from around the world by giving them access to state-of-the-art research tools.

At U of T, the funding will support important work in a variety of areas such as preventing falls in vulnerable populations, improving breast cancer survival rates and improving acoustical architecture.

“I’d like to congratulate our researchers and thank the Government of Canada and the Canada Foundation for Innovation for their continuing support,” said Vivek Goel, U of T’s vice-president of research and innovation. “Every day, our researchers are engaged in an outstanding array of research aimed at tackling real world challenges that have the potential to benefit all of us. This funding will ensure that work can continue at the highest level.”

In the case of Dr. Yoav Finer, this could mean fewer painful (and expensive) trips to the dentist for all of us.

Every year, Canadians spend an estimated $3 billion to replace dental work that has failed. In fact, 70 per cent of all cavities filled by dentists will need to be replaced because current resin composites are susceptible to enzymes in saliva and bacteria (the dreaded plaque) that thrive in our mouths.

Dr. Finer and his team will use the $240,000 in funding they’ve receiving today to study ways to reduce plaque buildup, reduce bacterial aggressiveness and test different materials to develop a higher performing, more resistant filling for cavities.

University of Toronto Mississauga assistant professor of biology Adriano Senatore, whose research addresses some of the most fundamental and challenging questions associated with the nervous system and its evolution, attended the event.

“This welcome funding is helping me to equip my lab with cutting-edge research tools, such as a high-performance computer, state-of-the-art microscopes and an electrophysiology system,” he said. “These critical pieces of equipment will help us to better understand how the nervous system evolved, providing a broader understanding of our own nervous system function and disease.”

Federal investment will have an impact far beyond his own lab, Senatore said. “Personnel in this lab are using the equipment on a day-to-day basis and are learning how to use cutting-edge tools. They will take this knowledge forward in their own careers in industry and academia.”

Read more about the event at UTM

The other John R. Evans Leaders Fund recipients affiliated with U of T are:

  • Maithe Arruda-Carvalho, $180,000, Department of Psychology, U of T Scarborough
  • David Brooks, $203,729, University Health Network and U of T Department of Immunology
  • Steven Chan, $199,623, University Health Network and U of T Department of Medicine
  • Oliver Ernst, $134,553, Department of Biochemistry
  • Mohit Kapoor,  $197,852, University Health Network and U of T Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology
  • Carmen Logie, $200,000, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work
  • Luc Mertens, $680,000, Hospital for Sick Children and U of T Department of Paediatrics
  • Peter Molnar, $100,000, Department of Biological Sciences, U of T Scarborough
  • Kristin Musselman, $166,199, University Health Network and U of T Department of Physical Therapy
  • Brady Peters, $115,000, John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design
  • Raymond Reilly, $526,255, The Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy
  • Clinton Robbins, $402,489, University Health Network and U of T Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology
  • Sophie Rousseaux, $319,543, Department of Chemistry
  • Adriano Senatore, $80,000, Department of Biology, U of T Mississauga
  • Valerie Wallace, $398,556, University Health Network and U of T Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology
  • Debra Wunch, $280,000, Department of Physics
  • George Yousef, $390,141, Saint Michael’s Hospital and U of T Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology
  • Mei Zhen, $393,872, Mount Sinai Hospital and U of T Department of Molecular Genetics