Ue-Li Pen (centre) of the department of astronomy & astrophysics, is working on a project that will allow Canada to participate in international collaborations

From better cancer treatments to healthier crops: new backing for U of T scientists

Six U of T researchers have been awarded a total of $14.6 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation for infrastructure in support of projects tackling topics as diverse as cancer treatment and food security.

“We are enormously grateful to CFI for these investments, said Professor Vivek Goel, U of T’s vice-president, research and innovation. “Ambitious, world-leading science requires powerful infrastructure, and we are fortunate that the Government of Canada recognizes that. It is through projects like these that our researchers will tackle society’s most pressing problems.”

The winning projects and lead researchers are: 

George Eleftheriades, Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, $2.6 million for “CERES: Centre for Reconfigurable Electromagnetic Surfaces.” The centre will be the Canadian focal point for high-frequency electromagnetic wave research, bringing together researchers from a variety of fields to solve problems in the communications, security and medical sectors. A core technology to be developed is a thin, lightweight surface that controls the generation, propagation and scattering of electromagnetic waves.

Patrick Gunning, department of chemical and physical sciences, U of T Mississauga, $2,382,000 for “Centre for Cancer Stem Cell Therapeutics.” Gunning will lead the establishment of a new centre for cancer drug discovery, focusing on some of the deadliest cancers known, including varieties of brain and blood cancer.

David Guttman, department of cell and systems biology, $1,807,480 for “Food Security in a Changing World: Centre for Plant-Microbe Chemical Genomics.” The centre aims to apply approaches commonly used in the pharmaceutical industry to the promotion of plant health in order to help farmers produce high quality and high value crops in the face of population growth and climate change.

Hoi-Kwong Lo, Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, $762,660 for “Smart Grid: Cyber-Physical Operation, Security and Quantum Technology.” The project aims to make the sophisticated power generation and distribution systems we will reply on in the future smart and secure.

Ue-Li Pen, department of astronomy and astrophysics, $400,000 for “Canadian VLBI Infrastructure.” The project will build very-long-baseline interferometry, which is a technique used in radio astronomy in which observations are made simultaneously by telescopes in different locations. It will enable new observations and measurements and allow Canada to participate in international collaborations.

Sachdev Sidhu & Raymond Reilly, Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research, $3,283,502 for “Engineered Biologics: Targeted Diagnostics and Therapeutics.” The project will bring together two teams of scientists. One group will generate hundreds of antibodies – a relatively new class of cancer therapy. The other will use these antibodies to create diagnostics and targeted therapies that are more effective and less toxic than existing treatments.

Funding awarded to these projects comes from CFI’s Innovation Fund, which supports promising and innovative directions in research or technology development in areas where Canada currently is, or has the potential to be, competitive on the global stage. 

In addition, each project was awarded funding from the organization’s Infrastructure Operating Fund, which helps cover a portion of the operating and maintenance costs associated with the funded infrastructure.

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