Prestigious Banting Fellowships bring two top researchers to U of S

SASKATOON - Two outstanding young researchers from Germany and Alberta have been recruited to the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) as 2016 Banting Post-doctoral Fellows, a federal program that attracts top-tier talent both nationally and internationally.

The U of S Banting Fellows will each receive $140,000 over two years, with funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

“This fellowship, the most prestigious of its kind in Canada, attracts some of the best young researchers in the world,” said Karen Chad, U of S vice-president research. “We are thrilled to have attracted these stellar young researchers whose work will help protect our environment and advance animal and human health, while positioning them for success as research leaders of tomorrow.”

The 2016 U of S Banting Fellows are:

Markus Brinkmann, a research associate at Germany’s RWTH Aachen University, studies the effects toxins have in water systems and on organisms exposed to them. His research will focus on creating computer models to predict contaminant levels and health impacts in fish—work that will not only reduce environmental and human health risks of ever-increasing numbers of chemicals, but which aims to significantly reduce animal use and costs involved in chemical testing.

“This project is about developing a more ethical, stream-lined and far less expensive approach for countries around the world to fulfil their chemical testing mandates,” said Brinkmann’s supervisor Markus Hecker, Canada Research Chair in Predictive Aquatic Ecotoxicology.

He noted that in Canada, regulatory monitoring of effluents under the federal Environmental Effects Monitoring program consumes more than 84,000 trout per year to assess 23,000 chemicals as required. In the European Union, 54 million vertebrate animals are used at a cost of $13.6 billion USD to monitor 140,000 chemicals.

Brinkmann’s research will be conducted at the Toxicology Centre, the largest toxicology centre in Canada and a world leader in aquatic toxicology research. He will work in collaboration with Hecker and aquatic toxicology experts from Canada, Germany and the United States.

Nilusha Malmuthuge, a PhD student in animal science at the University of Alberta, studies microbes, the tiny single-celled organisms that live in the gut of mammals. Her research at the U of S Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) will focus on the role of microbes in the gut of new-born lambs.

“We used to think microbes just affected the gut, but now we are talking about the effects these organisms have on the brain, diabetes and obesity,” said Philip Griebel, Malmuthuge’s supervisor and Canada Research Chair in Mucosal Immunology.

This study represents one of the first times microbes will be actively observed in the gut and may provide answers on how to treat microbial imbalances that cause common health problems in young animals.

Because of the intestinal similarities between lambs and human infants, her findings would be directly applicable to human health.

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For more information, contact:

Jennifer Thoma

Media Relations Specialist

University of Saskatchewan


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