Aug. 13, 2019

CFI funds cutting-edge labs and equipment for 13 UCalgary research projects

John R. Evans Leaders Fund supports researcher looking at food safety
Dongyan Niu
Dongyan Niu studies novel and sustainable strategies for securing food safety from farm to fork.

In Canada, it is estimated as many as four million Canadians, or almost one in eight people, become ill due to consumption of contaminated food each year. Contamination of food can happen anywhere in the food handling process, starting on the farm and ending on your fork.

To successfully prevent food-borne illness, the entire food production spectrum from farm to fork needs to be considered. UCalgary’s Dr. Dongyan Niu, PhD, in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine is working on tackling this issue. Her research is aimed at advancing food safety by understanding human health risks posed by food-borne pathogens of animal origin, as well as developing innovative strategies to minimize food safety risk.

John R. Evans Leaders Fund supports ground-breaking research in world-class facilities

Niu is leading one of 13 UCalgary projects to receive part of $2.81 million in funding through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF). Kirsty Duncan, minister of science and sport, announced an investment of $61 million in 261 new infrastructure projects at 40 universities across Canada. The funding will allow researchers across Canada to become leaders in their field.

“Researchers in Canada know that cutting-edge tools and labs are necessary to make discoveries and innovate. That is why our government is announcing funding for the infrastructure needs of Canadian researchers,” says Duncan. “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.”

Working in world-class facilities

Niu’s JELF grant will be used to purchase a live-cell imaging system and multi-mode microplate reader, to fundamentally understand persistence of food-borne pathogens of animal origin as well as to develop innovative strategies to minimize food safety risk. The knowledge and technology gained from such innovations will provide useful information and effective tools for strengthening Canadian food safety.

This project aligns with the Infections, Inflammation and Chronic Diseases research theme, as well as the emerging cross-cutting research strength, One Health, which seeks to understand the interdependence between human, animal, and environmental health.

“CFI’s investment will support researchers working to resolve complex global issues, made possible by access to cutting-edge equipment and labs,” says Dr. Andre Buret, interim vice-president (research). “Dr. Niu’s project will contribute to the growth of our institution’s established and emerging areas of research strength. We are thrilled to see our early-career researchers, like Dr. Niu, succeed in their pursuit of funding that kick-starts their research programs and creates opportunities for collaboration.”

The full list of University of Calgary JELF award recipients includes:

Cumming School of Medicine:

  • Jonathan Epp, Heterogeneous Neuro-Glial Communication in the Healthy and Inflamed Brain
  • Sarah Manske, Advanced Multi-Modal Imaging to Understand Bone's Adaptation to Mechanical Load and Chronic Disease
  • Sorana Morrissy, Molecular Profiles of Brain Tumours at Single-Cell Resolution
  • Vaibhav Patel, Mechanisms of Diabetes-Related Cardiovascular Disease Throughout the Lifespan

Faculty of Science:

  • Rachel Lauer, Using Marine Heat Flow Measurements to Develop the First Hydrogeologic Model of a Submarine Strike-Slip Fault System
  • Daniel Oblak, Study and Discovery of Solid-State Platforms Suitable for Future Quantum Technologies
  • Emma Spanswick, The Space Weather Adaptive Network (SWAN): Enabling Space Weather Science with Targeted Sensor Fusion in Canada's North
  • Jeffrey Van Humbeck, High Throughput Analysis and Purification to Enable Molecular Advances in Medicines and Materials for Clean Energy

Faculty of Veterinary Medicine:

  • Dongyan Niu, Development of Novel and Sustainable Strategies for Securing Food Safety From Farm to Fork
  • Jocelyn Poissant, Automation and Sequencing Infrastructure to Study the Genetic Basis of Health and Fitness Variation in Wild Animals

Schulich School of Engineering:

  • Md Golam Kibria, Catalysis Infrastructure for Sustainable Synthesis of High Value Fuels and Feedstock
  • Mozhdeh Shahbazi, Disaster Management and Emergency Response with Intelligent, Autonomous Aerial Systems
  • Joanna Wong, Engineering Materials and Manufacturing Processes for a Low-Carbon Economy