Driving The Innovation Economy In London

    McGuinty Government Building Ontario's Innovation-Driven Economy

    LONDON, ON, July 25 /CNW/ -


    Research aimed at quickly detecting contamination in food, water and soil
and improving early childhood learning for children with mathematical and
reading difficulties are two of the 10 projects at The University of Western
Ontario that will receive $1.4 million in funding from the province's Early
Researcher Awards program
    Funding leading research is part of Ontario's plan to build an innovation
economy. The researchers include:

    -   Dr. Daniel Ansari (http://psychology.uwo.ca/faculty/ansari_res.htm),
        who is investigating how children develop mathematical difficulties
        and how these relate to reading impairments to help design and
        implement new learning tools.

    -   Dr. Savita Dhanvantari
        who is developing ways to detect pre-diabetes damage to the
        pancreas leading to therapies that may delay or prevent this disease,
        which affects over 2 million Canadians.

    -   Dr. Elizabeth R. Gillies (http://publish.uwo.ca/%7Eegillie), who is
        using applied chemistry to improve the effects of medication by
        better targeting disease cells and developing new types of drugs that
        are effective on highly drug-resistant bacteria.

    -   Dr. François Lagugné-Labarthet
        (http://www.uwo.ca/chem/people/faculty/lagugne.htm), who is using
        state-of-the-art optical imaging technologies to learn more about
        nanomaterials, tiny materials used in many products from high-tech
        devices to food packaging.

    -   Dr. Silvia Mittler (http://www.physics.uwo.ca/%7Esmittler), who is
        developing a "lab on a computer chip" that will quickly detect
        contamination in food, water and soil to inform public safety
        decision makers.

    In total, 66 projects across the province worth $9.24 million will
receive 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.


    "London and southwestern Ontario are home to world-class researchers
making groundbreaking discoveries in fields as diverse as health care,
environmental protection and digital media. Ontario's investment in our
community today is helping to secure our place as leaders in the innovation
economy of tomorrow," said London West MPP Chris Bentley
    "Today's investment is an important part of Ontario's plan to build an
innovation-driven economy. We are investing in the people that 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


    -   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
           -  Partnerships with business


    Learn More about the Early Researcher Awards

    Learn More about Ontario's Innovation Agenda

    Learn how Ontario's Budget 2008 (http://ontariobudget.ca/english) is
    supporting innovation

                                                    Disponible en français



    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
(http://www.mri.gov.on.ca/english/programs/era/program.asp) (ERA) 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 mean cutting-edge research
opportunities for as many as 225 graduate students and post-doctorate
researchers, and engage as many as 6700 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. Supported
by close to $3 billion in spending over eight years, the Ontario Innovation
Agenda (http://www.mri.gov.on.ca/english/news/OIA042908.asp) 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.


    Dr. Daniel Ansari
    Uncovering the Reasons for Mathematical Learning Difficulties

    Basic mathematical skills are important for everyday success in life.
Studies repeatedly reveal low levels of mathematical skills among children in
many industrialized countries. Yet, scientific research into the causes of
children's difficulties with mathematics lags far behind investigations into
the psychological and neural basis of reading difficulties. Dr. Daniel Ansari
and his research team will start to fill this gap by investigating how
children develop mathematical difficulties and how these relate to reading
impairments. Results from this research will have implications for the design
and implementation of intervention tools for children with developmental
disorders of mathematics learning.

    Dr. Pauline Barmby
    The Histories of Stars and Galaxies

    Stars produce most of the energy emitted by galaxies and also produce the
materials needed for the formation of planets and life. But how are stars
formed? Why are some galaxies still forming new stars while others have
stopped? This research aims to reconstruct the history of star formation in
three nearby galaxies. Dr. Pauline Barmby and her research team will make
measurements of the physical conditions under which star formation occurs, and
will compare these with inferences from star clusters about how and where
stars formed in the past. Combining this information will help provide a
complete "star formation history" for typical galaxies.

    Dr. Colin Denniston
    Using Computer Models to Build Designer Materials

    The development of designer materials, materials manufactured to display
certain properties, is an area of active research in both industry and
academia. Conventional simulation techniques have only a limited ability to
deal with the complexity of designer materials. The research will develop
computer algorithms that capture both the molecular dynamics for particle
motion and the dynamics of fluid flow to reveal the physical processes
necessary for the self-assembly of various hybrid materials. This work will
lay the groundwork for the development in Ontario of various designer
materials and processes.

    Dr. Savita Dhanvantari
    Imaging for Diabetes Therapy

    Diabetes is a chronic disease that is caused by damage to the pancreas
and results in complications such as heart problems and amputations. Dr.
Dhanvantari's research team will develop innovative ways of detecting
pre-diabetes damage to the pancreas using imaging technologies, such as
positron emission tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging. This research
will lead to the detection of changes in the pancreatic cells that occur
before the onset of diabetes. Such discoveries will lead to therapies that may
delay or prevent this disease, thus improving the quality of life for
Ontarians at risk for diabetes.

    Dr. Elizabeth R. Gillies
    New Materials and Better Drug Delivery through Applied Chemistry

    With an eye to enhancing the efficacy of current drugs and creating new
drugs, Dr. Gillies and her research team are applying organic and polymer
chemistry for the development of new materials with designed biological
functions. Polymer vesicles, effectively little chemical "bags", will be
synthesized and their surfaces will be modified to selectively target disease
sites, including tumors with encapsulated drugs. In addition, polymers that
degrade by stages will be developed to enable the controlled release of the
drugs from the vesicles. The issue of antibiotic drug resistance is also being
addressed through the synthesis of new macromolecules.

    Dr. Martin Houde
    Improving the Tools to Study the Stars

    How do galaxies form? How do planets form? Dr. Martin Houde's research
team proposes to examine star formation by studying molecular clouds,
aggregates of dust and gas that not only are the birthplace of stars, but also
constitute one of the main components of our Galaxy. This research will
concentrate on one of the agents known to inhabit these structures and
participate in the star formation process: the interstellar magnetic field. It
may lead to new instrumentation that will provide a wealth of new data and
significantly improve our understanding of the star formation process.

    Dr. Mikko Karttunen
    Using Computers to Understand Molecular Biology

    Dr. Mikko Karttunen uses state-of-the-art computer simulations to study
sugars, receptor-ligand systems, nature's key-lock mechanisms, and
deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) transport. The above are fundamental for cell
functions, drug development, accurate DNA sequencing, and nanoscale sensors.
The results of the research will benefit Ontario as they may have important
implications for understanding diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's,
drug development, and nanoengineering.

    Dr. François Lagugné-Labarthet
    Imaging for Nanomaterial Knowledge

    Dr. Francois Lagugne-Labarthet and his team will research the
characterization of nano-materials using advanced optical microscopy
techniques. These techniques will offer information far beyond that provided
by conventional imaging techniques, and it will allow the molecular properties
of these materials to be associated with their molecular structures, sizes,
compositions and functions. This research will keep Ontario at the leading
edge of nanotechnology research and enable the use of nanotechnologies in the
development of Ontario economy.

    Dr. Hong Ling
    Genetic Replication and Understanding Cancer

    Our genes contain deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), which encodes the
information for the growth, development, and biological functions of humans.
DNA also encodes molecules that are responsible for everyday processes, such
as vision, muscle contraction, and food digestion. Damage to DNA can occur by
exposure to ultraviolet light or pollutants, leading to improper development
and diseases, such as cancer. Dr. Hong Ling and her research team aim to
examine the structures and functions of proteins that can correct the DNA
damage and keep DNA functioning normally. This research will help to
understand pollutant-induced cancer and lead to the development of new drugs
to cure cancer.

    Dr. Silvia Mittler
    Lab on a Chip: Quick Detection of Hazardous Material

    The quick and reliable detection of hazardous materials in very small
concentrations has become increasingly important in modern society. The delays
caused by sending biological or environmental samples to laboratories and
waiting for analytical results often means that precious time is lost which
could have been used to lessen the impact or set up counter measures. Dr.
Silvia Mittler and her research team are looking to develop an "All-Optical
Analytical Lab on a Chip," a small, reliable and inexpensive solution to this
problem. The easily transportable system uses a "film" of light to analyse
small samples within a minute time frame to inform public safety decision

                                                      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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