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CFI awards researchers more than $1million


Five promising young Queen’s researchers have received a total of $1,015,947 from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) Leaders Opportunities Fund.

The award is part of a $26-million package to support 136 researchers at 40 institutions across Canada.

“The Leaders Opportunity Fund is helping Queen’s researchers turn their ideas into solutions that will address the complex challenges of our society,” says Vice-Principal (Research) Kerry Rowe. “CFI support enables our faculty and post-doctoral fellows to access the critical equipment and infrastructure required to conduct their leading edge research.”

According to Dr. Eliot Phillipson, President and CEO of the CFI: “Investments like these have transformed Canada’s research landscape over the past decade and made the country a magnet for the highly skilled people upon which our future well-being depends.”

Linda Lévesque (Community Health and Epidemiology) heads a three-pronged project to study the safety, effectiveness and economic impact of medications used for diabetes, dementia and cancer. With co-recipients Sudeep Gill (Geriatrics) and Ana Johnson-Masotti (Community Health and Epidemiology), she will receive $$438,556 to establish the Pharmacoepidemiology and Economics Research Unit (PERU) at Queen’s.

The PERU team will examine the “real world” health and economic impact of medications using large, computerized datasets containing anonymized information collected by Ontario’s health insurance programs. This type of research is becoming increasingly important as governments face growing pressure to approve medications more quickly, as well as pay for treatments that, at times, offer only modest benefit but at an extreme cost.

Dr. Lévesque will develop a database of all elderly persons newly treated with an anti-diabetic medication. This will be the first study to address the cancer risk of such medications, as well as the first population-based study of the safety of these agents. Dr. Gill will focus on providing information for decision-makers about how best to serve older Canadians with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. His research will evaluate risks and benefits of combining medications used for dementias with those commonly prescribed for the elderly. Dr. Johnson-Masotti, Canada Research Chair in Health Policy, will assess the economic impact and cost-effectiveness of new cancer treatments in the population at large, developing a longitudinal database of individuals diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer.

Katrina Gee (Microbiology and Immunology) has been awarded $176,000 for her work examining how two HIV proteins, Tat and Nef, are responsible for the disruption of immune cell function. “HIV uses a variety of mechanisms to escape the host immune response, including the destruction of infected cells, interference with the normal functions of immune system cells, as well as residing as a latent virus in host cells,” says Dr. Gee. Results from these studies will be used to identify new target areas critical to the development of anti-HIV therapies and vaccines.

Mark Boulay (Physics) will receive $401,391 to support his research into “dark matter” particles. Called DEAP (Dark matter Experiment using Argon Pulse shapes), Dr. Boulay’s project is developing the technology to search for dark matter: to date invisible, but believed to comprise 25 per cent of the universe.

The Canada Foundation for Innovation is an independent corporation created by the Government of Canada to fund research infrastructure. A complete list of LOF projects, by university, can be found on their website.


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