Carolyn Sparrey, professor in the School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering, is one of more than 50 SFU researchers to benefit from NSERC's most recent funding announcement.

NSERC funds help researchers study body tissue response to accidents, aging

September 08, 2017

By Marianne Meadahl, SFU News

SFU researchers will be able to more efficiently learn how the human body’s tissue responds to external forces such as car accidents as well as internal processes, like disease or aging, thanks to funding announced today by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).

Carolyn Sparrey, a professor in SFU’s School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering, and a team of SFU researchers are developing new equipment that will enable their precision testing system, designed at SFU, to be used into operating rooms or even an individual’s bed side, replacing the need to take tissue to a lab for analysis.

The team members are among more than 50 SFU researchers who will benefit from over $9 million in research funding from NSERC. Nearly $2 million is also going towards scholarships and fellowships at SFU.

NSERC is providing $515 million, its largest annual investment, in Discovery grants, scholarships and fellowships to support fundamental research across Canada. Another $36 million will support national researchers, including Sparrey’s team, with funding through its Research Tools and Instruments (RTI) program.

Sparrey and her team are developing a custom designed, portable frame that will greatly enhance positioning of their “mechanical impactor” and provide rigid support for precision testing.

The first of its kind system will open opportunities to develop new research, diagnostic and treatment protocols to better understand how the human body responds to “loading” – forces that pass through tissues and joints and can lead to injury and degeneration.

Sparrey says the new equipment is critically important for a number of different research projects, from human/technology interfaces and injury mechanics, to understanding degenerative tissue changes resulting from aging and disease.

“These NSERC grants allow for SFU researchers to think creatively in order to pursue intriguing research questions as they emerge,” says Joy Johnson, SFU’s Vice-President, Research and International. “The funding enhances excellence in natural sciences and engineering research and training with the opportunity to result in future innovations and transformative insights.”


NSERC release (includes list of SFU recipients)