More than $3M in Early Researcher Awards, research infrastructure fundings

From McMaster Daily News

Eleven recently-appointed faculty will get up to $100,000 to help build their research programs thanks to the Early Researcher Awards announced Friday.

The ERA program recognizes promising researchers and their potential to become world-class innovators.

The work of McMaster’s ERAs will impact public health, the environment and the economy.

“We are proud to invest in ground-breaking, world-class research right here in Hamilton,” said Ted McMeekin, Ontario’s Minister of Community and Social Services and who made the announcement Friday. “Our researchers are pivotal to building a dynamic and innovative business climate in Ontario, one that will draw investment and opportunity and build Ontario’s economic strength and competitive edge.”

Dozens of undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, research assistants, associates and technicians will have the opportunity to join the research teams of the eleven Early Researcher Award winners.

The ERA awardees represent five of McMaster’s six Faculties and will each be funded to a maximum of $140,000 by the provincial government, with matching funding of $50,000 from the University over the next five years.

Minister McMeekin also announced the recipients of the Ontario Research Fund – Research Infrastructure (ORF-RI) program, which provides research institutions with funding to help support infrastructure needs such as modern facilities and equipment. McMaster received $1,653,501 in funding for eight research projects.

“These talented researchers are blazing new trails in their fields. Whether its health, environmental or rehabilitation sciences, green technologies, or more efficient delivery of our health care services, they are creating new ways of thinking and new innovations in their areas of research,” says Mo Elbestawi, vice-president, research & international affairs. “This funding will give them the opportunity to expand their research teams, upgrade and augment their labs, and provide an enriched research-training environment for the next wave of young researchers.”

McMaster’s latest round of Early Researcher Awards and their research proposals are:

  • Thomas Adams, assistant professor, chemical engineering, whose work on sustainable energy conversion may be pivotal to positioning Ontario as a lead global exporter of nuclear energy products.
  • Dawn Bowdish, assistant professor, pathology & molecular medicine, whose research investigates the causes of bacterial pneumonia in the elderly
  • Dr. Benicio Frey, associate professor, psychiatry & behavioural neurosciences, whose work is focused on developing more accurate treatment for the 10 – 15 per cent of Canadians who suffer from depression
  • Kristin Hope, assistant professor, biochemistry and biomedical sciences, who is leading ground breaking research on improvements in blood stem cell transplants
  • Victor Kuperman, assistant professor, linguistics and languages, who is exploring the cognitive causes of inadequate reading comprehension and ways to incorporate this research into adult literacy programs
  • Nathan Magarvey, assistant professor, biochemistry & biomedical sciences, and Canada Research Chair in Natural Product Drug Discovery, who is leading the delivery of safer, more effective and targeted natural drug discoveries
  • Gillian Mulvale, assistant professor, health policy and management, whose work will help families and service providers deliver coordinated services for adolescents with mental illness.
  • Daria O’Reilly, Associate Professor, Department of Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics, who is exploring ways to spend resources more efficiently in the treatment of diabetes
  • Guillaume Paré, assistant professor, pathology and molecular medicine, and Canada Research Chair in Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology, whose work will help physicians identify diabetics who are at high risk of developing heart or kidney complications
  • Graham Scott, assistant professor, biology who is studying the respiratory systems of animals who are able to thrive in conditions of oxygen deprivation, and the environmental and clinical implications
  • Ada Tang, assistant professor, rehabilitation sciences, who is exploring ways in which to improve cardiovascular care and reduce healthcare costs in the province

The eight ORF-RI recipients, their research award and projects are:

• Biochemist Eric Brown, who has been awarded $290,000 in infrastructure to support his Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Microbial Chemical Biology. Multidrug resistant bacteria continue to be a health care burden in both hospital and community settings. Recognizing the need for new therapies, Brown’s proposed research program will uncover weaknesses in the survival strategies of bacteria for the design of truly novel antibacterial drugs.

• Biologist Marie Elliot, Canada Research Chair in Molecular Microbiology and Microbial Genomics,who has received $60,000 for the Control of Chromosome Dynamics and Genome Integrity. Cancer and infectious disease are two leading causes of premature death in Ontario. Elliot’s research team will explore how antibiotic production is influenced by regulatory factors, and examine how protein interactions and modifications stabilize our genetic material. The findings will allow them to identify new cancer therapeutic targets and develop new antibiotics.

• Elkafi Hassini, associate professor of operations management and co-investigator Sourav Ray, associate professor, marketing, who have been awarded $173,561 for Infrastructure for Advanced Business Analytics: Creating and Analysing Big Data for Canadian Distribution Channel. A framework for using pan-supply chain big data analyses will be created to reduce distribution channel conflict among small and medium enterprises, thereby enhancing competitiveness through innovation in marketing and operations processes.

• Engineering physicist Rafael Kleiman, who has received $399,940 for his research program Time and Frequency Domain Hyperspectral Imaging for Photovoltaic Applications. Solar cell technology, deployed on a large scale, has the potential to substantially contribute to Ontario’s energy mix. This project will develop new techniques to directly image the defects and imperfections in solar cells that limit their efficiency, providing new tools to improve solar cell manufacturing processes.

• Civil engineering assistant professor Dimitrios Konstantinidis, who will generate critically needed knowledge on the earthquake behaviour of nonstructural components. This knowledge will facilitate the development of innovative technologies to protect nonstructural components from earthquake damage. Konstaninidis’ research program garnered $100,000 in funding for a Multi-Axis Dynamic Simulator for Testing Operational and Functional Components and Advanced Seismic Isolation Devices.

• Biologist Grant McClelland will be investigating the effects of multiple environmental and pollution-based stressors, such as temperature, salinity, pH, and chemical contaminants, upon aquatic animal development, behaviour and physiology. McClelland’s $270,000 award will provide infrastructure for A Facility for Multi-stressor Biology on Aquatic Organisms.

• Gregory Steinberg, Canada Research Chair in Metabolism, Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes and associate professor, endocrinology has been awarded $60,000 for Infrastructure to Support Obesity and Metabolism Research. His project will test the effects of exercise, nutrition and genetics on adiposity in mice. Steinberg will also investigate the mechanisms mediating these effects by examining modifications that occur on proteins.

• Ray Truant will be using his $300,000 funding for a High Content Analysis Nanoscope to Study Neurodegeneration and Discover New Compounds for Neurodegenerative Disease. Truant – an associate professor in the department of biochemistry – leads a research program whose goal is to discover new chemical family leads as potential new therapies for Huntington’s disease. By working at the single cell level at nanometer resolution, Truant can focus his efforts on determining the molecular trigger of this devastating disease.

- See more at:

Emerging Stronger 2014: Hamilton leading the way

Hamilton, ON, FEB 11th 2014: The Hamilton-Niagara Peninsula region leads the province in business confidence, according to a new survey from the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and Leger Marketing. The annual Ontario Business Confidence Index shows that 59 percent of surveyed businesses are confident in Ontario’s economy–up a significant 15 percentage points from last year.

The index also shows that 82 percent of businesses in the region are confident in their own organization’s outlook, a 12 percentage point increase over the previous year. Over 71 percent of businesses in the region plan to expand within the next five years.

“The results of the index reaffirm the incredible momentum and energy in the Hamilton community over the last few years”, says Keanin Loomis, CEO Hamilton Chamber of Commerce. “We hope to continue working with all levels of government over the next year to ensure we utilize effective policy and legislative tools necessary for the business community to realize their goals”.

“The Hamilton-Niagara region is home to some of Ontario’s most forward-thinking and able businesses,” said Allan O’Dette, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “It only makes sense that they would lead Ontario in confidence.”

The survey of businesses is featured in Emerging Stronger 2014, a business-driven economic agenda released by the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and authored by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the Mowat Centre and Leger Marketing. The report identifies the immediate steps that government and the private sector must take to enhance Ontario’s economic competitiveness and spur job creation in the province.

“There are actions that government and business can do to boost our economy and business confidence,” adds O’Dette. “While confidence is up big time in the Hamilton-Niagara region, we’re still concerned about uncertainty in the overall business climate, including pending changes to the pension environment and energy costs.”

“There are a number of recommendations within the Emerging Stronger report that stuck out to me as incredibly relevant for the Hamilton regional economy” says Keanin Loomis, CEO Hamilton Chamber of Commerce. “Through a series of improvements to the regulatory environment, talent development and developing strategic cluster strategies as highlighted in report, the Ontario government can play a significant role in the future of Hamilton”.

Among the survey’s findings are:

●    The Hamilton-Niagara Peninsula region is the most confident region in the province.
●    81 percent of businesses are confident in their own economic outlook, 7 percentage points above the provincial average.
●    72 percent of businesses in the region plan to expand in the next five years, a significant increase of 13 percentage points compared to the previous year.
●    47 percent of businesses in the region believe that Ontario’s economy is headed in the right direction, a slight drop from the previous year.
●    59 percent of the region’s businesses are confident in Ontario’s economy, 11 percentage points above the provincial average.

Read Emerging Stronger 2014:

For more information:
Huzaifa Saeed
Policy & Research Analyst

Private Sector’s Role in Water Issues Within Developing Countries – UNU INWEH

The global water sector is worth almost $500 billion per year, growing at a rate of 5-10 % annually. Of the many issues INWEH deals with, Agriculture is a large area where the private sector can play a huge role in mitigating the global water crisis.

Excerpt: The poor are mainly rural, where agriculture is the mainstay of their livelihoods. Over 2 billion live in drylands where by definition water is scarce. Small holder farmers number between 400-500 million versus 5 million large scale farmers. 80% of all food is produced by small holder farmers and their production needs to double by 2050 if we are to feed the world…As water scarcity increases water for agriculture must be used more efficiently and the private sector can supply appropriate technologies such as irrigation, water storage.

Check out the full video here

Read more on the UNU website on the safe and productive use of Waste Water in Agriculture 

New cardiovascular findings “a total surprise” says Yusuf

Daily McMaster News

Despite living with the highest risk factors for heart disease, people in high-income countries suffer less from serious cardiovascular disease, according to an international study by the PURE (Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology) collaboration and led by McMaster researchers.

The study also found that people in low-income countries — although living with fewer risk factors for heart disease — have a higher incidence of serious cardiovascular disease, including death.

“These findings were a total surprise,” said Dr. Salim Yusuf, lead author of the study being presented Tuesday to the European Society of Cardiology. Yusuf is a professor of medicine at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and director of the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI).

The study followed 155,000 people from 628 urban and rural communities in 17 countries over four continents for nearly four years.

The international research team found risk factors for cardiovascular disease were lowest in low-income countries, intermediate in middle-income countries and highest in high-income countries. However, the incidence of serious cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks, strokes, heart failure and deaths followed the opposite pattern.

Hospitalizations for less severe cardiovascular diseases were also highest in the high income countries.

“These results in the high-income countries are likely due to earlier detection of disease, better hospital management of the disease and better prevention after an event,” said Yusuf. “While efforts to reduce the risk factors need to be pursued, there should be a major additional focus on strengthening health care systems.”

Co-author Dr. Koon Teo, a professor of medicine at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and the Population Health Research Institute, agreed. ”PURE emphasizes how important access to good health care is likely to be, as the differences in mortality rates between the richest and poorest countries are three-fold,” he said.

This study was funded by more than 25 organizations, including the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario and by unrestricted grants from several pharmaceutical companies.

- See more at:

Health Sciences Researcher to benefit from Movember Grant

A McMaster researcher testing a promising new biological marker for diagnosing prostate cancer has received a Movember Discovery Grant.

Khalid Al-Nedawia, a researcher in the Department of Medicine, is among 40 new grant recipients across the country funded by Prostate Cancer Canada. Each recipient of a Discovery Grant will receive up to $200,000 over a two-year term. The funds will be used to further innovation in prostate cancer research, and focus on a broad range of topics — from basic biological science to population health.

For his part, Al-Nedawi is assessing the potential of the so-called “biomarker” to tell prostate cancer patients from normal subjects, including its ability to predict the metastasis of prostate cancer and its ability to differentiate between prostate cancer and non-cancerous conditions.

For decades, the standard biomarker for prostate cancer diagnosis was prostate specific antigen (PSA), although many studies have confirmed it can’t differentiate between benign and life-threatening tumors. This leads to a large number of unnecessary biopsies and the overtreatment of low-risk patients, Al-Nedawi explains.

Al-Nedawia will receive $194,000 for his research project, “The role of microvesicular-PTEN in prostate cancer: a diagnostic potential.”

Source:  Daily News McMaster

McMaster University Advancement earns most awards at national conference

McMaster Daily News 

McMaster’s University Advancement team brought home nine Prix D’Excellence awards from this year’s Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education conference – the most won by any University in the country.

The CCAE is a national organization that promotes excellence in educational advancement. Its annual awards recognize outstanding achievements in alumni affairs, public affairs, communications, development, student recruitment and overall institutional advancement.

McMaster’s University Advancement team was recognized for work in areas that range from fundraising and community outreach to government relations and the redesign and re-launch of the Daily News.

McMaster was also recognized for its innovative approach to using social media for fundraising and for building awareness around last year’s football playoffs.

“Our unique, integrated advancement team is one of the most effective in the country,” said Mary Williams, vice-president university advancement. “These awards are well-deserved and recognize the many talented people who have accomplished so much this year on behalf of McMaster.”

“University Advancement provides a wide range of important services for McMaster,” said President Patrick Deane. “The team operates at an exceptionally high level and these awards reiterate that. Congratulations to everyone involved.”

The full list of awards is below:


Best Annual Fund Initiative – McMaster 125 Bursary Challenge

Best Community Outreach Initiative – Open Streets Hamilton: McMaster Edition

Best News Release – The Infographic News Release: An Innovation in Storytelling

Best New Idea: Creativity on a Shoestring – White Coat Letter Writing Campaign


Best website – The new Daily News

Best Donor Relations Initiative – Giving Report 2012

Best Brochure, Newsletter or Flyer – McMaster Highlights: Hamilton Edition


Best Use of Social Media – Vanier Cup 2012 (on,,

Best New Idea: Creativity on a Shoestring – Flickr Event Donor Slideshows: An Immediate Post-event Donor Touch