Flagship research centres awarded $69M to advance innovation

Three unique-in-Canada research centres at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) have been awarded almost $69 million in federal funding.

By University Communications

This funding will enable them to stay at the forefront of international science in protecting human and animal health, developing new medical imaging techniques and providing critical radar mapping of electromagnetic “space weather” just above Earth’s atmosphere.

Canada’s Science Minister Kirsty Duncan today announced $328 million will be invested through the Major Science Initiatives (MSI) fund of the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) to support operations at 17 national science centres over the next three to five years, including three at U of S:

  • $48 million for the Canadian Light Source (CLS), which is using its brilliant synchrotron light to support ground-breaking research in health, the environment, materials and agriculture including unique work done in biomedical imaging and therapy that holds promise in areas such as advancing cancer therapy and treating osteoporosis;
  • $19.3 million for the International Vaccine Centre (InterVac), part of the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO), which is one of the largest, most advanced containment Level 3 facilities in the world and provides the infrastructure to safely study infectious diseases of animals and humans and develop vaccines to protect against these emerging health threats; and
  • $1.56 million for SuperDARN Canada, a U of S-led initiative operating five radar arrays across Canada that provide continuous mapping of “space weather” above Canada, data critical to being able to predict when electromagnetic storms above Earth could threaten technologies such as GPS, electrical grids and navigation systems. 
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"This major investment, which amounts to one-fifth of all the funding CFI announced today, affirms the value to Canada of the world-class science being done within these unique centres,” said U of S President Peter Stoicheff. “These centres support the work of hundreds of scientists and graduate students working within our signature research areas, bolstering the success of the U of S as one of Canada’s top research universities.”

The MSI program funds national facilities that enable Canadian researchers to undertake world-class research and technology development that leads to social, health, economic or environmental benefits to Canadians. This CFI funding is intended to cover 40 per cent of operating costs, with each research centre responsible for finding additional public and private funds. For more information, visit innovation.ca.


SuperDARN: Predicting space storms

Gilles Patry, CFI president and CEO:
“Canada’s large-scale, world-leading research facilities, such as the Canadian Light Source, not only bring together some of our country’s best researchers but they also serve as hubs for international scientific collaborations. As science becomes more complex, major science initiatives are crucial to make sure bright minds from Canada and abroad are able to explore the frontier of science and find answers to some of the most pressing issues of our time.” 

U of S Vice-President Research Karen Chad:
“These outstanding centres, whose operations were reviewed by independent panels of international peers, are attracting researchers from around the world to help solve pressing global challenges in human and animal health, global food and water security and effects of space weather on modern technologies.” 

Robert Lamb, director of the Canadian Light Source:
“This award affirms the role the CLS plays in Canadian science and our ability to adapt to scientific trends for the benefit of thousands of Canadian and international scientists who use the facility. Building on this are innovations that directly respond to Canada’s needs such as the launch of our first spinoff company, Canadian Isotope Innovations Corporation, which is developing a novel approach for producing medical diagnostics using the power of light.”

VIDO-InterVac Director Andrew Potter:
“CFI was a major contributor to the expansion of our containment Level 2 and 3 research facilities. This investment supports high priority human and animal infectious disease research targeting tuberculosis, pandemic influenza and other emerging pathogens, and will ensure solutions are developed that protect the health and livelihood of Canadians. ”

U of S space physicist Kathryn McWilliams, director of the SuperDARN Canada project:
“Electromagnetic storms give us the beautiful displays of the aurora borealis, but they can also damage key infrastructure on earth like pipeline, power grids and satellites in space. As an essential part of a global research partnership in 10 countries, the team at the U of S helps to continuously monitor how solar wind interacts with our planet. Interpreting this data is the first step to being able to predict and then mitigate the effects of extreme electromagnetic activity in the near space region.”