Nov. 15, 2001 Vol . 22, No. 6
By Carol Thorbes
Simon Fraser University shone in the biomedical category of the first annual competition for new research awards in B.C.
The Michael Smith foundation for health research (MSFHR) career awards cover a five-year period and are aimed at keeping health researchers in B.C. and attracting new ones.
Six of the 33 award recipients in the inaugural competition were from SFU: Fiona Brinkman, molecular biology and biochemistry (MBB), Kerry Delaney, biology, Michel Leroux, MBB, Stephen Robinovitch, kinesiology, Dipankar Sen, MBB and Peter Unrau, MBB.
"All of SFU's recipients were in the biomedical category, even though we have no medical school," says Bruce Brandhorst, a professor of molecular biology and biochemistry at SFU.
He also co-directs SFU's institute for health related research, which helped the university's MSFHR contenders put together their applications.
"We fared well because we have been hiring excellent faculty in the biomedical field, and because we have had the opportunity to hire in recent years," notes Brandhorst.
He says SFU failed to obtain career awards in the other categories (clinical, health services, population health) because there were few or no SFU applicants. He also notes the competition was stiff for few awards.
SFU will receive a total of just over $2.7 million to cover the cost of the career award recipients' salaries, establishment grants and institutional commitments over the next five years.
In the first competition for trainee awards, SFU had recipients in all categories, except clinical.
The awards help exceptional masters and doctoral students and post-doctoral fellows become independent health researchers in B.C. There were 78 trainee award recipients eight from SFU.
Collectively, the SFU recipients will receive just over half a million dollars ($576,872) in research and travel benefits.
Named after B.C.'s first Nobel prize recipient, the Michael Smith foundation for health research was conceived of by the Coalition for Health Research in B.C.
In March 2001, the provincial government gave the alliance of universities, teaching hospitals, biotechnology companies and others $110 million to implement a five year plan for building B.C.'s health research capacity.
The foundation's ultimate goal is to attract more health researchers to B.C. and enhance their ability to compete for national health research grants.
B.C. garners only eight per cent of federal research funding, despite having 13 per cent of Canada's population.
Brandhorst hopes that the province will extend the MSFHR's funding to provide ongoing career programs for outstanding health researchers. He says that will make them more inclined to stay in B.C.
Visit http://www.msfhr.org for a complete list of MSFHR recipients.
© Simon Fraser University, Media and Public Relations