SFU researcher Ralph Pantophlet shares research details with Minister Kirsty Duncan at SFU's Burnaby campus on March 15, 2019. Photo credit: Eugene Doudko

research

Funding to advance research on disease vaccines, river systems and brain mapping

March 15, 2019
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By Braden McMillan

Simon Fraser University researchers are preparing to take their projects to the next level after receiving more than $700K worth of funding.

The Hon. Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport, made the announcement while visiting SFU’s Burnaby Campus on March 15, 2019. The $746,300 of funding, provided by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI)’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF), will be used to improve SFU labs and purchase equipment that will enable researchers to advance their research goals.

“On behalf of the university, I’d like to express my sincerest congratulations to the three SFU researchers receiving the John R. Evans Leaders Fund awards from the Canada Foundation for Innovation,” says Joy Johnson, SFU’s Vice-President, Research and International. “We are grateful for CFI’s investment that helps SFU expand its global impact by continuing to grow our capacity in research excellence and innovation.”

Associate professor Ralph Pantophlet, Faculty of Health Sciences, is one of three SFU lead researchers who will benefit from the funding announcement. Pantophlet will receive a new-generation flow cytometry system that will enable high-resolution analyses of immune responses and precise recovery of immune cells.

This leading-edge system will enable researchers to unravel cell biological responses and strengthen disease research in Canada. It will support recent Canadian initiatives to stimulate new vaccine and cure strategies. The research will also enhance Canada’s global role in promoting human health and security, benefitting Canadians in the long term.

“We look forward to utilizing this new technological platform to advance our vaccine research endeavors, particularly those focused on HIV-1, and continue to build capacity at SFU for research in infectious diseases and immunology,” says Pantophlet.

The Hon. Kirsty Duncan tours a research lab at SFU's Burnaby Campus

JELF funding will also provide SFU researchers Jeremy Venditti, Faculty of Environment, and Dylan Cooke, Faculty of Science, with specialized research equipment and materials for their respective projects.

Venditti will utilize a new research vessel and oceanographic hydroacoustic instruments to observe aspects of large rivers with unprecedented visual resolution. The research will provide greater knowledge of how rivers work, informing questions about how to manage, conserve, and preserve river systems.

Cooke’s research will focus on the brain, using an automated data collection system to create layered maps of brain connectivity, structure and function in unparalleled detail. Using these data-rich maps, he will characterize variability and look for links to variation in motor skill, effects of brain injury and neuroplasticity.

SFU funding recipients stand on stage with Minister Duncan. (Left to right) Ralph Pantophlet, the Hon. Kirsty Duncan, Jeremy Venditti, Dylan Cooke

SFU is one of 43 universities to receive JELF funding as part of a broader announcement made on Wednesday. The combined funding provides more than $39 million for state-of-the-art research labs and equipment that will support 251 researchers leading 186 projects at universities across Canada.

Thanks to investments like this, SFU is enabled to engage with more communities and conduct additional groundbreaking research that will have positive impacts on Canadians for generations to come.