Driving The Innovation Economy In The GTA



    
    McGuinty Government Funding Research That Turns Ideas Into Jobs
    

    TORONTO, Aug. 27 /CNW/ - Research aimed at improving the lives of
children with severe physical disabilities, creating cleaner ways to generate
electricity, and finding better ways to treat and prevent disease are among
the 22 research projects across the Greater Toronto Area receiving more than
$3 million in funding from the province's Early Researcher Awards
(http://www.mri.gov.on.ca/english/programs/era/program.asp) program.
    Funding world-class research is part of Ontario's plan to build an
innovation economy that turns great ideas into good jobs, better health care,
a cleaner environment and endless possibilities for Ontario families.

    
    The researchers include:

    -   Dr. Tom Chau
        (http://www.bloorview.ca/research/scientistprofiles/chau.php)
        (Bloorview Kids Rehab) who is helping children trapped by severe
        physical disabilities communicate and interact with the world around
        them.
    -   Dr. Radhakrishnan Mahadevan
(web.chem-eng.utoronto.ca/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=650&Itemid
=62) (University of Toronto)
        whose research focuses on microbial fuel cells: a device that uses
        micro organisms to generate electricity. Dr. Mahadevan believes this
        technology has the potential to assist in environmental clean-up
        while generating clean energy.

    -   Dr. Krishnan Venkatakrishnan
        (http://www.ryerson.ca/mie/faculty/associate/venkatakrishnan.html)
        (Ryerson University) whose team is finding new ways to use lasers to
        help Ontario's semiconductor manufacturers produce the next
        generation of high-performance chips.

    -   Dr. Peter Cheung
        (www.uhnresearch.ca/researchers/profile.php?lookup=1005)
        (University Health Network) and his team will explore the regulation
        of genes linked to prostate cancer.
    

    In total, 66 projects across the province worth $9.24 million are
receiving funding from the Early Researcher Awards program.
    The goal of this program is to improve Ontario's ability to attract and
retain the best and brightest research talent from around the world. Today's
investment will ensure that leading Ontario researchers have the resources
they need to build their research teams of graduate students, post-doctoral
fellows, research assistants and associates from across Canada and abroad.

    QUOTES

    "Today's investment is an important part of Ontario's plan to build an
innovation-driven economy. We are investing in the people who are pioneering
the scientific breakthroughs that will improve health care, protect the
environment, and ignite growth in the industries that will shape Ontario's
future," said Minister of Research and Innovation John Wilkinson
(http://www.mri.gov.on.ca/english/about/MinisterBio.asp).
    "This Early Researcher Award recognizes that in our knowledge-based
economy, research to better the human condition - to empower children with
disabilities - is a priority for the Ontario government. Our aim is to unlock
the world of communication and control for children who can't talk or move.
The Early Researcher Award will help us attract and train top graduate
students to work in this rich, untapped field and address other childhood
disability issues for generations to come," said Bloorview Kids Rehab
researcher Tom Chau
(http://www.bloorview.ca/research/scientistprofiles/chau.php).

    QUICK FACTS

    
    -   The Bloorview Kids Rehab research project is expected to create jobs
        and training opportunities for three post-doctoral researchers,
        focused on the next generation of advanced medical devices for
        children with severe disabilities.

    -   Across the GTA, today's investment means cutting-edge research jobs
        and training opportunities for as many as 74 undergraduate and
        graduate students and post-doctorate researchers, and the engagement
        as many as 1,099 high school students each year, giving them an
        inside look at real research and inspiring them to consider a career
        in science and technology.

    -   The Early Researcher Awards program is an important part of Ontario's
        Innovation Agenda
        (http://www.mri.gov.on.ca/english/programs/oia/program.asp),
        a plan to make innovation the driving force of the provincial
        economy.

    -   Innovation is part of the McGuinty government's five-point plan for
        the economy. The other parts of the plan are:
        -  Skills and training
        -  Building infrastructure
        -  Strategic business tax cuts to create investment
        -  Partnerships with business
    

    LEARN MORE

    Learn More about the Early Researcher Awards
(http://www.mri.gov.on.ca/english/programs/era/program.asp)

    Learn More about Ontario's Innovation Agenda
(http://www.mri.gov.on.ca/english/programs/oia/program.asp)

    Learn how Ontario's Budget 2008
(http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/english/budget/ontariobudgets/2008/) is supporting
innovation

    
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                                                  ontario.ca/innovation-news
                                                      Disponible en français



    BACKGROUNDER
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

                 STRENGTHENING ONTARIO'S INNOVATION ECONOMY
    

    Funding world-class research is part of Ontario's plan to build an
innovation economy.
    Ontario's universities, colleges, hospitals and research institutes play
a vital role in the government's five-point plan to ensure Ontario remains at
the forefront of the global knowledge-based economy by supporting cutting-edge
research and developing world-class researchers.
    The Early Researcher Awards program (ERA)
(http://www.mri.gov.on.ca/english/programs/era/program.asp) helps promising,
recently-appointed Ontario researchers build their research teams of graduate
students, post-doctoral fellows, research assistants and associates. The goal
of the program is to improve Ontario's ability to attract and retain the best
and brightest research talent from around the world.
    Across the province, this investment will provide cutting-edge research
opportunities for as many as 225 graduate students and post-doctorate
researchers, and the engagement of as many as 6,700 high school students each
year, giving them an inside look at real research and inspiring them to
consider a career in science and technology.
    The ERA program is a key part of Ontario's Innovation Agenda
(http://www.mri.gov.on.ca/english/programs/oia/program.asp). Supported by
close to $3 billion in spending over eight years, the Ontario Innovation
Agenda is building Ontario's innovation economy on the strength of our
province's creative environment, diverse culture, highly skilled workforce,
world-class educational system and internationally recognized research
community.


    
       EARLY RESEARCHER AWARDS RECIPIENTS IN THE GREATER TORONTO AREA
    

    Advanced Manufacturing
    ----------------------

    Dr. Krishnan Venkatakrishnan
    Ryerson University
    Nanofabrication Using Ultrashort Laser Pulses

    Dr. Krishnan Venkatakrishan and his team's research on ultrashort laser
processing will allow microelectronics and microelectrochemical systems
manufacturers to physically alter device features during high-volume
production. This will increase performance and boost production of
semiconductor devices, passive electronic components and circuitry, high
density interconnect circuit boards and advanced semiconductor packaging. This
research will develop advanced technology involving both fundamental and
applied research, providing hands-on training in marketable skills.

    Dr. Bo Tan
    Ryerson University
    Laser micro/nano Manufacturing

    In markets driven by the miniaturization in electronics, photonics and
biomedical devices, new manufacturing techniques are necessary to realize the
potential of micro- and nano-technology and their application to
manufacturing. Dr. Bo Tan and her team's short pulse laser fabrication
research has the potential to replace the existing production techniques for
certain applications with a method that yields lower costs, a more
straightforward approach and higher production throughput, helping Ontario
remain competitive in these areas.

    Dr. Michael John Gruninger
    University of Toronto
    Self-Correcting Intelligent Manufacturing

    One form of intelligent manufacturing involves the implementation of
information systems that act in anticipation of future problems, needs, or
changes of the user. This is often done using radio frequency identification
technology to process and transmit data about objects as they pass through the
various manufacturing stages. By analyzing data and events in real-time,
objects become self-directing, processes become self-managing, and the supply
chain becomes self-correcting. Dr. Gruninger and his research team will focus
on specifying the manufacturing process knowledge that must be encoded on
tags, and perform the automated reasoning using the knowledge encoded on the
tags.

    Clean Energy/Environment
    ------------------------

    Dr. Radhakrishnan Mahadevan
    University of Toronto
    Systems Biology and Microbial Fuel Cells

    Microbial fuel cells are a promising technology to address environmental
clean-up and energy generation issues. The current biological catalysts used
in microbial fuel cells have low electricity generation rates. Dr.
Radhakrishnan Mahadevan and his research team will develop, through computer
modelling and bio-engineering, a community of different species of
micro-organisms that can be used to generate electricity at higher rates,
enabling their use in practical applications with higher power demands.

    Dr. Olivera Kesler
    University of Toronto
    Building Better Solid Oxide Fuel Cells

    Solid oxide fuel cells are the most efficient energy conversion devices
and can use multiple fuels, but high costs and limited lifetimes prevent their
widespread use. Dr. Olivera Kesler's research will lower solid oxide fuel cell
cost by replacing more expensive ceramic materials with inexpensive stainless
steel as their main structural component. As steels can oxidize at operating
temperatures, Dr. Kesler and her team will seek to gain an understanding of
the oxidation behaviour and to use that knowledge along with chromium
protection coating methods to develop strategies for preventing the
degradation of stainless steel in the fuel cells.

    Biotechnology/Health
    --------------------

    Dr. Peter Cheung
    University Health Network
    Understanding Gene Regulation in Normal and Cancer Cells

    The human genome project estimated that each cell has about 30,000 genes.
However, not all of these genes are active in a given cell type. Keeping the
right genes on and off is critical since disruption of the proper balance of
gene expression will lead to diseases such as cancer. Dr. Peter Cheung and his
research team are working to learn more about the regulation of genes by the
packaging of deoxyribonucleic acid around histone proteins. It focuses on the
molecule that removes chemical "tags" from histone proteins to turn on
specific genes. This molecule has been implicated in prostate cancer and may
ultimately constitute a new target for developing anticancer drugs.

    Dr. Tom Chau
    Bloorview Kids Rehab
    "Body talk": Technologies for Voiceless Communication

    Due to a lack of supporting technologies, many cognitively intact
individuals with severe and multiple physical disabilities cannot interact
with their world or communicate with the people around them. Without speech or
movement, these individuals still have some natural body responses, which can
convey their intentions. Dr. Tom Chau and his research team propose to measure
many different signals from the bodies of children with severe disabilities
and to search for hidden patterns which reflect their intentions. Dr. Chau and
his team will then develop hardware and software systems to automatically
detect those subtle patterns, allowing the child to communicate through
thoughts or "body talk".

    Dr. Mona Rafik Loutfy
    The New Women's College Hospital
    Anti-HIV Therapy for Women

    Women constitute the fastest rising group at risk for HIV in Ontario.
Until recently, women have been underrepresented in HIV research. Dr. Mona
Loutfy and her research team will look at how anti-HIV therapy and its side
effects differ between women and men. Managing side effects is one of the most
important issues in HIV treatment. Understanding the differences in side
effects in HIV-positive women is critical and has yet to be evaluated within a
large group.

    Dr. Catriona M. Steele
    Toronto Rehabilitation Institute
    Swallowing Safety and Stroke Rehabilitation

    Dysphagia, swallowing impairment, may affect those who have been affected
by stroke or a neurodegenerative disease and is a significant health concern
for Ontario. Thin liquids such as water become unsafe to swallow due to the
high risk of airway invasion. The tongue plays a critical role in swallowing,
generating pressures that transport material through the mouth and throat.
These pressures must be closely matched to a liquid's viscosity for safe
swallowing. Dr. Catriona Steele and her research team will show how the
accuracy of viscosity perception depends on tongue motor skill and how a
program of tongue motor skill rehabilitation can improve viscosity perception
accuracy and swallowing safety.

    Dr. James Robert Carlyle
    Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
    Improving our Understanding of Disease Immunity

    Innate immunity is our first line of defence against disease. Natural
killer cells are innate immune cells that detect and destroy undesirable
entities, such as infected and cancerous cells. Dr. Carlyle has discovered a
molecular interaction that mediates a new form of immune recognition between
natural killer cells and their targets. The team will study how natural killer
cells use this system to distinguish between healthy and abnormal cells, and
how infections can overcome this defence strategy. Their work will improve our
understanding of human resistance to cancer, infection, and transplantation
and provide a foundation for the development of therapies and vaccine
strategies.

    Dr. Michael P. Scheid
    York University
    Finding New Starting Points for Cancer Treatment

    Cancer is a disease where the body's tissue begins to grow and spread
inappropriately. Dr. Michael Scheid's research focuses on a group of enzymes
involved in the signalling process that regulate cell functions, including the
function which determines whether or not to initiate cell death. Dr. Scheid
and his team have discovered a new mechanism of enzyme regulation which could
be critical for developing new types of cancer treatment.

    Dr. Kari Lee Hoffman
    York University
    From Perception to Memory and Back Again

    Dr. Kari Lee Hofflam's research seeks to understand the relationship
between 'bottom-up' or stimulus-driven neural activity, and 'top-down'
memory-driven activity. Dr. Hoffman's team will ask which nerve cells are
recruited to encode new stimuli, such as the faces of individuals, how newly
encoded patterns are transformed into memory, and how different patterns of
activity can alter perception. The research is expected to reveal the
mechanisms underlying perception and memory formation, as well as pathologies
involving excessive synchrony, such as epilepsy.

    Dr. Douglas S. Lee
    University Health Network
    Predicting and Providing Treatment for Heart Failure

    Heart failure occurs when the pump function of the heart is weakened or
when the heart becomes stiff and relaxation of the heart becomes impaired. A
significant number of Canadians will develop heart failure in the future.
Patients with heart failure often seek care in the emergency department. Dr.
Steele's research team will develop instruments to identify heart failure
patients in the emergency department who are at high risk of death, repeated
visits to the emergency room, or hospitalization.

    Dr. Christopher Sushil Parshuram
    The Hospital for Sick Children
    Treating Critically Ill Patients in Ontario

    Dr. Parshuram's research seeks to improve current systems and reduce
error in treating critically ill patients. His bedside system identifies
at-risk patients, permitting timely access to the Intensive Care Unit. Fatigue
may impair the performance of healthcare practitioners and prevent the
delivery of effective care. Dr. Parshuram's research team is evaluating
methods to reduce fatigue and improve performance through better scheduling of
frontline doctors. His safety-focused research program measures key patient
outcomes and provides a strong training environment. This research will
improve the treatment of critically ill patients in Ontario.

    Dr. Stephane Angers
    University of Toronto
    Molecular mechanisms for Cell Health

    Cellular proteins have a limited lifetime as cells destroy their proteins
on a regular basis to remain healthy and stable. Enzymes called ubiquitin
ligases control the recognition and destruction of proteins in the cell.
Several diseases, including cancer, have been linked to the inability of cells
to destroy their protein. Dr. Stephane Angers and his research team will work
to understand this process, leading to the design of better treatments for
disease, and improved quality of life in Ontario.

    Dr. Asher Damon Cutter
    University of Toronto
    How General are Genetic Pathways?

    This research will determine whether different species of nematodes, or
roundworms, use the same sets of genes to allow them to develop resistance to
environmental stress. Nematodes cause major damage to crops, and are difficult
to control due to their stress-resistance. Scientists are also interested in
these nematode genes because their interaction closely resembles that of human
genes linked to diseases like diabetes and Alzheimer's. Dr. Asher Cutter and
his research team will work to determine how these genes differ across species
and how this could lead to better pest management and therapies for human
diseases.

    Information and Communications Technologies
    -------------------------------------------

    Dr. David Juen Fung Lie
    University of Toronto
    Securing Computing Systems with Virtual Machine Monitors

    Businesses and individuals rely heavily on computers to perform
security-sensitive tasks. Computer security breaches have cost businesses
significant amounts of money and statistics indicate that computer security is
a great concern for even the average computer user. Dr. David Lie and his
research team aim to improve the security of computing systems by enhancing
software at layers below the operating system to implement defences that
cannot be circumvented or disabled by attackers. Securing computer systems in
this way will prevent security breaches and reduce lost time and money and
increase privacy, thus enabling computing to further benefit
security-sensitive areas such as health care and critical infrastructure
management.

    Dr. Ashvin Goel
    University of Toronto
    An Integrated Approach Towards Client Computer Security

    The continued growth of the Internet is limited by the fact that it
cannot be fully trusted for critical tasks such as online banking and
healthcare, despite many organizations working hard to make their online
services secure. Dr. Ashvin Goel and his research team will investigate this
issue and provide comprehensive solutions that can be applied to existing
client computers to make Internet use safe and more secure.

    Fundamental Research
    --------------------

    Dr. Wendy J. Taylor
    York University
    Capturing Particle Physics Data

    The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European Organization for Nuclear
Research in Geneva, Switzerland will be the highest energy particle physics
facility for decades. This facility offers enormous discovery potential,
including the elusive Higgs Boson particle, believed to give mass to all
matter in the Universe. In 2015, its proton beam luminosity will be increased
by a factor of ten. This change requires significant detector upgrades using
technologies capable of handling the higher event rates and radiation doses.
Dr. Wendy Taylor's team will develop the low-noise, radiation-tolerant readout
electronics for the replacement inner tracking detector necessary to capture
the discovery potential of the facility.

    Dr. Andrew Stephen Toms
    York University
    Classifying C(*)-Algebras

    A fundamental goal in mathematics is to classify various objects, often
by means of an invariant, an identification tag which carries the essential
structure of the original object. Dr. Andrew Tom's research team will focus on
the classification of C(*)-algebras, specifically non-simple C(*)-algebras. This
class of objects has its roots in quantum mechanics, and touches much of
modern mathematics including group theory, geometry, and dynamics.

    Dr. Cody Howard Storry
    York University
    Comparing Matter and Anti-matter

    Antihydrogen is the simplest atom made entirely of antimatter and
consists of one antielectron bound to one antiproton. Dr. Cody Storry's
research group will model antihydrogen and trap it. This will allow them to
compare antihydroden's atomic structure to that of hydrogen and provide the
first direct comparison between matter and antimatter atoms as well as a
strong test of fundamental symmetries in nature. Positronium is the bound
atomic state of one electron and one antielectron. Dr. Storry and his team
will compare measurements of the energy level structure in positronium to the
best theoretical predictions and provide a strong test of quantum
electro-dynamic theory.

    Dr. Yanqin Wu
    University of Toronto
    Planet Formation: Perspectives from the Outer Solar System

    Does planet formation around other stars start from largely the same
conditions and reach largely the same outcomes as those in our own solar
system? Modern technological advances have allowed us to examine these issues
by giving us a view of other solar systems where planet formation is ongoing,
as well as the deep icy space called the outer solar system. Dr. Yanqin Qu and
her research team will try to interpret these exciting and sometimes complex
views to try and answer the ancient question: is our solar system unique in
the universe?

    
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    	                                             ontario.ca/innovation-news
                                                     Disponible en français
    





For further information:

For further information: Sandra Watts, Minister's Office, (416)
314-7067; Perry Blocher, MRI Communications Branch, (416) 326-7717

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