Two York professors receive funding for innovative research from CFI

Two York University researchers have received a total $405,895 in funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) for their ground-breaking studies in biochemistry and health care.

Professor Dasantila Golemi-Kotra, of the Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science & Engineering, will receive $211,543 to support her research in the areas of bacterial and viral infection. Professor Diane Duff of the School of Nursing, Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, will receive $194,352 for the Telehomecare Research Unit at York.

Golemi-Kotra is investigating the increasing resistance to antibiotic treatment of bacterial infections, with the goal of designing new treatments and identifying new potential drug development targets. She and her team are also examining the interactions between viruses and their cell hosts, with the intention of developing peptide- or small molecule-based inhibitors to viral infections, such as HIV. “The CFI funds will greatly assist us in continuing to provide potential leads for the development of safe, effective drug therapies,” says Golemi-Kotra.

“This award will allow an outstanding young scientist to accelerate her research program and strengthen York’s growing expertise in biochemistry,” says Professor Don Hastie, Chair of York’s Chemistry Department. “We will now be able to enhance the equipment available to researchers and provide new training opportunities to both graduate and undergraduate students.”

The Telehomecare technology Diane Duff and her team are working on allows an interdisciplinary team of health care providers to use two-way video, voice and peripheral devices to measure and monitor the vital signs and health symptoms of the homebound and chronically ill. Clinicians are more able to focus time and attention on the patients’ concerns, while patients feel much more in control of their health and more confident about managing their chronic illnesses at home.

“I have been holding my breath for the past two weeks hoping that the CFI infrastructure funding would be awarded,” says Duff, “I couldn’t be more delighted!” The infrastructure will allow Duff and her team to develop and evaluate Telehomecare models in order to determine what kinds of health services provide the best practices and outcomes for Canadians.

These research projects have important implications for health care in Canada. More effective ways to combat bacterial and viral infections and more effective home treatment of the chronically ill can only have a positive impact on stressed health budgets in all provinces.

“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,” says 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.”

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.