/research-driven / Innovation With Impact
SFU Public Policy student Ian Anderson works on HIV reduction programs in Malawi
THE SFU DIFFERENCE When it comes to knowledge mobilization, our researchers don’t limit their aha! moments to labs and library journals. From health care and homelessness to global security and sustainability, SFU-led innovation benefits the social, economic and cultural health of communities near and far.
Advancing HIV/AIDS research in Africa
SFU is playing a major role in AIDS prevention research in Africa. As SFU’s new Canada Research Chair in Global Perspectives in HIV, and Sexual and Reproductive Health, Angela Kaida investigates how expanding access to HIV treatment services influences reproductive decision-making, behaviours and outcomes among women in high-risk areas. And molecular biologist Mark Brockman co-leads a four-year, $1.8-million project to improve the ability of research facilities in Africa to carry out much-needed HIV prevention research trials. They’re building a research network to help Africans conduct clinical, biomedical and sociological studies on HIV/AIDS and related infections.
From butterfly to better business
When SFU Engineering Science professor Bozena Kaminska and graduate student Clint Landrock first pondered the magnificent shimmer of a Blue Morpho butterfly's wings, they couldn’t know their curiosity might lead to a new anti-counterfeiting technology. Only after discovering a mesh of holes so small they can trap a single wavelength of light did they begin to consider the practical applications of such nanostructures. They approached Doug Blakeway, a member of SFU's Surrey Community Advisory Council and entrepreneur-in-residence at the TIME Ventures business incubator. His company is now fielding inquiries from treasuries around the world.
Hakai Network to strengthen BC’s Central Coast
Citing SFU’s depth of research expertise and practical working relationships with First Nations communities, BC’s Tula Foundation invested $8 million in the fledgling Faculty of Environment to launch the Hakai Network for Coastal People, Ecosystems and Management. The eight-year commitment will help strengthen the ecological, economic and social well-being of BC’s Central Coast. Together with First Nations and other collaborators, the network will address issues related to education, training and capacity-building throughout the traditional territories of the Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xai’xais, Nuxalk and Wuikinuxv First Nations.
New Alzheimer’s therapies on the horizon
SFU chemistry professor David Vocadlo is this year’s recipient of the prestigious E.W.R Steacie Memorial Fellowship for his groundbreaking research in the field of glycobiology. His work points the way to new treatment options for cancer and Alzheimer’s patients. Vocadlo’s Burnaby, BC-based spin-off company, Alectos Therapeutics, recently announced an important research collaboration with the pharmaceutical giant, Merck—a deal potentially worth $289 million—to identify and develop compounds to modify a key enzyme that may contribute to Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders.
A “living lab” for sustainable housing
More than 200,000 people toured SFU’s West House—a model sustainable home—during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Now the tiny “laneway house”—the inspiration of School of Interactive Arts and Technology professors Lyn Bartram and Rob Woodbury—is a living lab that will ultimately help BC Hydro meet its long-term energy targets. Recently relocated and rented out in suburban Vancouver, the house boasts the latest in green-building, clean-energy and smart-home control technologies. In cooperation with BC Hydro, the City of Vancouver, and Western Economic Diversification, SFU will monitor energy consumption to help accelerate advancements in energy conservation, technology and innovative home design.
Saving lives in rural India
SFU engineering scientist Ash Parameswaran and a trio of grad students discovered a fast, effective way to diagnose bacteria-infected newborns that could potentially save thousands of lives in rural India. Working with Indian colleagues, the researchers developed a class of plastic microfluidic chips that can determine the sensitivity of bacterial strains to different antibiotics within hours—a huge benefit in remote Indian villages where doctors must often wait days for test results from faraway labs. With funding from the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, SFU grad students Mona Rahbar and Suman Chhina developed the first prototypes, which were tested in Indian labs last year; second-generation chips are being tested now.