September 21, 2020

Molecular biology and biochemistry professor Ly Vu is working to improve survival rates for those with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Her research program is identifying new factors that can serve as targetable molecules and pathways to specifically eliminate leukemia cells while sparing normal cells. With $100,000 in CFI-funded infrastructure, this research will provide the scientific foundation for developing a therapy that targets these pathways as a new strategy in eradicating leukemia stem cells to improve outcomes in AML patients.

Mathematics professor Caroline Colijn's research lies at the convergence of mathematics, evolution, infection and public health. Her expertise in understanding pathogen transmission and controlling infectious disease places her at the forefront of creating models for how COVID-19 spreads. This project received $200,000 from CFI’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund to establish a new physical space for her growing Magpie Research Group, where researchers will perform rapid simulations, model how pathogens spread, and use large-scale data assets to evolve and design interventions.

Mani Larijani, professor in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, and Shrum Chair in Biological Mechanisms of Disease studies processes that mutate our genes. Genetic mutation can create serious implications for disease, especially in the growth and development of tumors. Larijani works on visualizing these DNA mutating processes at the molecular level, understanding how they are regulated in both healthy and cancer cells, elucidating how they impact the emergence and progression of cancer, and how they impact the effectiveness of anti-cancer immune responses. In addition, Larijani studies the evolutionary dynamics of these genome-mutating processes across species. The funding, $199,948 from CFI’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund, will be used to inform and design new therapeutic strategies for cancer that improve the health and well-being of Canadians.

Nancy Forde in the department of Physics and Peter Unrau in the department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry will now be able to create a new microscope suite unique to Canada. The cellular imaging suite will measure how molecular complexes respond to force by detecting and tracking individual molecules. Imaging at the nanometer scale is critical in the development and detection of cancer and this new tool will support entirely new and fundamental biomedical research.

Department of Physics professor Eundeok Mun studies quantum matter which is responsible for a wide range of phenomena that has enhanced our understanding of fundamental science and led to many technological advances. The funds will enable him to purchase a SQUID (Superconducting Quantum Interference Device) magnetometer that is essential for characterizing the magnetic properties of newly synthesized materials. This program will form a foundation for the design and fabrication of the next generation of devices with properties that may allow them to be more cost effective and reliable.