SFU trio win health grants

Feb 20, 2002, vol. 23, no. 4
By Carol Thorbes

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Three Simon Fraser University faculty members are among 310 researchers across Canada recently awarded new operating grants by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

Glen Tibbits, a kinesiology professor studying the molecular physiology of cardiac contraction, has been awarded $134,326 a year for five years. The grant, one of the largest awarded by the CIHR, will support Tibbits' work at the B.C. Research Institute for Children's and Women's Health and at SFU.

The molecular cardiac physiologist is investigating the molecular
basis of congenital heart disease with an eye to laying the groundwork for gene therapy to rectify the condition.

Peter Unrau, a member of SFU's depart-ment of mole-cular biology and biochemistry (MBB) and an expert on RNA (ribonucleic acid) catalyzed chemical reactions, is the recipient of $84,474 annually for a three-year term.

The grant will enable Unrau to test and refine a new method he has
developed for creating RNA catalysts (also called ribozymes) capable
of performing small molecule chemistry. The SFU biochemist's new method mimics the natural pro-cess of selection.

Dipankar Sen, a chemist and also a MBB member, will use a $72,200 annual grant he has been awarded for a three-year term to further his work on DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) sensors.

The former colleague of Nobel prize winning biochemist Walter Gilbert
is investigating the use of DNA as an electrical tool to create
circuits, molecular switches and gene chips, indiscernible to the
human eye.

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