Engineering science professor Michael Adachi leads one of five SFU-led projects that are set to receive a combined $840,000 from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund.


Five SFU-led research projects share $840,000 from CFI’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund

August 12, 2019

Five Simon Fraser University research projects—from personalized treatment for cancer patients, to advancing our ability to predict and mitigate geological hazards, such as earthquakes—have been awarded $840,000 from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF).

The B.C. Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF) will double this funding, in addition to partner contributions for each project.

JELF funding supports projects that are undertaking cutting-edge research by providing them with the foundational infrastructure that is required to be—or become—leaders in a particular field. The funding helps SFU remain competitive on an international stage, in areas of research and technology development that align with the university’s strategic priorities.

“I would like to thank CFI, BCKDF and partner contributions for their generous investments that help the university remain at the forefront of research excellence and innovation,” says Joy Johnson, SFU’s vice-president, research and international.

“I extend my sincerest congratulations to the five SFU researchers leading these innovative projects that contribute to the benefit of society.”

The five research projects will benefit from funding for the following:

A laboratory for two-dimensional (2D) material device fabrication, led by Michael Adachi, professor, School of Engineering Science. The project was awarded $300,000 from CFI’s JELF with matching funds from BCKDF. This research will focus on developing miniature, non-invasive and flexible 2D material biosensors expected to result in new tools for the diagnosis and prevention of disease. It will aim to reduce healthcare costs, while the development of flexible solar cells is expected to result in new clean energy products.

A scanning electron microscope (SEM) suite for the characterization of earth materials, led by Brendan Dyck, professor, Department of Earth Sciences. The project was awarded $190,000 from CFI’s JELF with matching funds from BCKDF. Researchers will use this CFI-supported infrastructure to investigate deep crustal processes and develop new SEM-based technologies. These studies benefit Canadians by improving baseline mineral resources knowledge, a linchpin of the economy, and advancing the ability to predict and mitigate geological hazards that stem from deep crustal processes (i.e. earthquakes and volcanic eruptions).

Characterization and radioactive cellular biology suites for discovering novel metallic radiopharmaceuticals, led by Caterina Ramogida, professor, Department of Chemistry. The funding, $150,000 from CFI’s JELF and matched by BCKDF, will enable researchers to carry out the synthesis, characterization and cellular testing of the novel and cutting-edge radiopharmaceuticals developed. The research has significant implications toward realizing personalized medicine in cancer treatment, as the proposed drugs can be customized more easily by adjusting both the affinity of the biomolecule to the tumour type and the radiation load of the final drug construct.

Software-programmable heterogeneous accelerator-rich datacenters, led by Zhenman Fang, professor, School of Engineering Science. The project was awarded $100,000 from CFI’s JELF and matched by BCKDF. The research will enable the wide adoption of heterogeneous systems with field programmable gate arrays (FPGA) accelerators in the vast software community. The improved programmability and performance of FPGA-enabled systems offer opportunities for software developers to create new big data applications leading to commercial products, and Canadian jobs in the high-tech sector. The improved systems will also accelerate existing big data and healthcare applications leading to considerable health benefits for Canadians.

Next-generation computing infrastructure for data-intensive systems and applications led assistant professor Tianzheng Wang from the Faculty of Applied Science. The funding, $100,000 from CFI’s JELF and matched by BCKDF, will help Wang purchase state-of-the-art equipment representative of future hardware trends. The equipment will enable research on data management systems and eventually transform data-intensive and big data applications with better system-level support. It will further position SFU and Canada as leaders in the field and enhance Canada's presence at the highest international level.

The Hon. Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport, made the announcement. “Researchers in Canada know that cutting-edge tools and labs are necessary to make discoveries and innovate,” she says. “That is why our government is announcing funding for the infrastructure needs of Canadian researchers. Their ground-breaking contributions to science and research have an enormous impact on the breakthroughs that help make our visions for a better future a reality.”

Roseann O’Reilly Runte, CFI’s president and CEO, says: “Canada’s leading researchers require cutting-edge infrastructure to solve global challenges. At the Canada Foundation for Innovation we are proud to invest in their work and in our nation’s future.”


SFU is one of 40 Canadian academic institutions to receive JELF funding. The combined funding provides 261 research projects with over $61 million for state-of-the-art research labs and equipment.

Learn more about CFI’s JELF funding in the official media release.