CFI funds innovative research at York

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) yesterday announced more than $644,000 in infrastructure grants for three research projects at York. These investments will enhance the University’s research capacity and its role in driving forward Canada’s capacity.

Biology researcher Stephen Wright (right), of the Faculty of Science & Engineering, has received $234,134 to create a new laboratory for the study of plant genome evolution and population genomics.

Wright’s facility will be used for innovative research combining computer-based analysis of genomes, collection of genome sequence data, and theoretical work. He aims to answer some fundamental questions in evolutionary genetics and to better understand the forces driving genome evolution and the functional importance of different aspects of genome structure. The research will address the effects of population size and inbreeding on the ability of plants to adapt.

Results of Wright’s research should have important implications for environmental conservation by providing a better understanding of how adaptation takes place at the genome level. The project will aid in the identification of important genes for agricultural improvement and medicine. The proposed infrastructure will help put York at the cutting edge of genomic research.

Scott Kelly (right) is a researcher in the Department of Biology in the Faculty of Science & Engineering. He received $218,489 to develop an aquatic organism holding facility at York and establish a laboratory for advanced integrative research in fish physiology and endocrinology. 

The project will examine the endocrine mechanisms that regulate appetite, energy and the hydromineral balance in commercially important freshwater fish such as trout, tilapia and carp. By taking an integrated approach (from the whole animal to the molecular level), Kelly will research how genes are expressed in the systems and behaviour of freshwater fish. The research will enhance our understanding of appetite regulation in freshwater fish, important because it will increase production and promote healthy development in Canada’s freshwater fish aquaculture industry while at the same time benefiting the environment.

deniseYork kinesiology researcher Denise Henriques (right) has received $191,665 to investigate a central question of neuroscience – how the brain uses information from the senses to control actions with a purpose. Her research on sensorimotor control will have profound implications for many common and debilitating neurological disorders and possibly for robotics, physical education and teleoperations such as remote surgery.

Henriques will investigate how the brain represents spatial information and how the senses work together to guide the body to move in a coordinated way. Her research should provide new diagnostic tools and treatments for sensorimotor disabilities due to strokes, tumours, injuries and degenerative disease. It may also lead to improved motor-skills learning in children and athletes, and could improve human-machine interfaces for medicine and industry. 

“Government investments into university research infrastructure are crucial to sustaining high quality, globally competitive research programs at York and to retaining and attracting the best researchers and students,” said Stan Shapson, York’s vice-president research & innovation. “The federal government’s ongoing investments through CFI and the matching investments from the Province of Ontario are greatly appreciated.”

The CFI is an independent, not-for-profit corporation established by the Government of Canada in 1997 to strengthen the capacity for innovation in Canadian universities, colleges, research hospitals and other non-profit research institutions.