Five York researchers receive more than $1.1 million in funding

Five York University researchers have been awarded more than $1.1 million in funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) to study topics ranging from obstacles preventing long-term weight loss to the brain mechanisms underlying disorders such as autism.

CFI announced the inaugural funding for its new Leaders Opportunity Fund (LOF) – $23.6 million for 35 institutions across the country. The new program, which funds infrastructure for research, was created to give Canadian universities the flexibility they need to attract and retain the best researchers at a time of intense international competition for faculty.

“These awards represent a strategic boost to the research capabilities of York University,” said Eliot Phillipson, president and CEO of the CFI. “It’s investments like these that have transformed Canada’s research landscape over the past decade and made the country a destination of choice for the world’s best researchers.”

York researchers will use the CFI funding for the following projects:

School of Kinesiology & Health Sciences researcher Rolando Ceddia will equip a multidisciplinary research laboratory with state-of-the-art physiology, metabolism, cell and molecular biology tools to investigate the regulation of energy storage, obstacles to losing weight and the effects of potential new drugs ($226,518). 

Right: Funding from the CFI’s Leaders Opportunity Fund will help unlock some of the mysteries of autism

Mazyar Fallah, also of the School of Kinesiology & Health Sciences, will use neurophysiology equipment to research how the brain selects sensory input to process, and how it binds that information into a perceptual whole. The answers may reveal how basic mechanisms of visual processing, when dysfunctional, underlie autism and attention disorders ($236,918).

Christopher Lortie, a researcher in the Department of Biology, Faculty of Science & Engineering, will study invasive plant species in a new facility equipped with tools to measure plant ecophysiology, morphology and performance, as well as nutrient content. York will partner internationally to investigate species in different regions of the world, starting with invasive maple trees in Canada and France ($203,022).

Left: The Norway Maple is an example of an invasive maple tree

As a researcher in the Department of Physics & Astronomy in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, Cody Storry will use his research funding toward developing a facility at York which will produce large numbers of cold positronium (an electron and an antielectron in a bound state) using a new technique he developed at Harvard. An extension of this technique may produce the first trappable antihydrogen atoms. The positronium studies will extend the variety of atomic systems under study at York into the antimatter sector ($241,434).

Valeria Tsoukanova, a researcher in the Department of Chemistry in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, will undertake a new research program in biophysical chemistry and biomaterials design using the most advanced in-situ surface imaging techniques available. This research will provide a solid basis for rational design of coatings for implantable materials and drug delivery systems ($219,983).

“Our government applauds the groundbreaking work being carried out by world class researchers at York University,” said federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. “Making investments in research and development will not only enhance our quality of life, they are critical if we are to strengthen Canada’s ability to be innovative and remain competitive in this vastly changing global marketplace.”

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 young researchers and students, said Stan Shapson, York’s vice-president research & innovation. “The federal government’s ongoing investments through CFI provide our researchers with the resources necessary early in their careers to contribute significantly to scientific discoveries, public policy development, and national and international dialogue.”

A complete list of LOF projects, by university, can be found at: