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Strengthening capacity

Health and ocean sciences benefit from federal funding boost

Research |

By Jeff Green

Research aimed at improving the health and well-being of people living with life-threatening diseases and protecting critical marine resources are among projects led by Memorial University benefitting from new federal funding totalling $347,200.

The investment from the Canada Foundation for Innovation will fund new cutting-edge technology and infrastructure.

“Memorial has garnered an international reputation for making important scientific contributions to the fields of healthcare and ocean sciences,” said Dr. Richard Marceau, vice-president (research). “In order for that work to continue, our researchers require valuable tools and equipment. Through the support of the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Memorial scientists will be able to generate new ideas and discoveries that will impact the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and beyond, as well as our environment.”

Drs. Robert Gendron and Hélène Paradis, Faculty of Medicine, received $100,000 to acquire state-of-the-art imaging technology—the first of its kind in Newfoundland and Labrador—vital to their research on neovascular retinal diseases.

Drs. Hélène Paradis and Robert Gendron study neovascular retinal diseases.
Drs. Robert Gendron and Hélène Paradis study neovascular retinal diseases at Memorial.
Photo: David Howells

Drs. Karen Mearow and Qi Yuan, Faculty of Medicine, received $96,492 for a laser scanning microscope which will be utilized for live cell imaging to assist research of brain-related diseases.

Dr. Annie Mercier, Department of Ocean Sciences, Faculty of Science, received $96,906 for a high-resolution digital slide scanner, and an image-analysis suite, which are vital for research and educational purposes in biology and pathology. The scanner is the first of its kind in the province for her area of research.

And, Drs. Len Zedel and Mark Abrahams, Faculty of Science, received $53,802 to acquire an echosounder system needed for quantitative measurements of fish or plankton biomass.

Dr. Paradis says the CFI funding will provide three-dimensional high resolution images which will significantly advance health-related retinal research. The new equipment will be also be used by researchers requiring tissue or materials imaging capability.

“We are working toward fighting these diseases through the basic research that feeds new drug development,” she noted. “We study signalling pathways of a protein called Tubedown, which we discovered in 2000. Our work will be greatly enabled by the new imaging technology in quality, speed and resolution, thus allowing us to continue to produce new translatable knowledge about retinal health and disease.”

For Dr. Mercier, innovative technology such as a new slide scanner will assist her team make important discoveries related to marine invertebrates and other marine biology.

“There is currently nothing like this scanner available at Memorial,” she said. “The potential benefits of my research range from a better understanding of the impact of climate change on ocean systems, to ecosystem-based marine management and conservation programs and the optimization of aquaculture practices.”

In total, CFI announced more than $23 million in funding for 95 projects at 26 universities across Canada. The funding was awarded under the CFI John R. Evans Leaders Fund.

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