NSERC awards over $1 million to York-led research partnerships

Two York-led industry-academic partnerships have received a total of $1,237,136 through the Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) Strategic Projects Grants program.

Sergey Krylov, professor in the Faculty of Science & Engineering and Canada Research Chair in Bioanalytical Chemistry, has received $773,200 over three years to explore new therapies to treat metastatic cancers – secondary tumors that originate from a malignant primary tumor and subsequently invade different organs.

Right: Sergey Krylov

Laurie Wilcox, associate professor in the Faculty of Health’s Department of Psychology, is co-principal investigator on Depth in Motion with Ali Kazimi, associate professor in the Faculty of Fine Arts’ Department of Film. Theirs will be the first research project to rigorously assess human responses to moving content in stereoscopic 3D film (S3D), while challenging current practices and intuitions filmmakers have garnered through 2D and static 3D experience. The grant is provided through a collaborative initiative between NSERC and the Canada Council for the Arts; NSERC has provided $286,836 while the Canada Council has provided $177,100 for a cumulative three-year total of $463,936.

Left: Laurie Wilcox

Krylov has partnered with AB SCIEX, whose Canadian offices are based in Concord, Ontario, to create personalized diagnoses and therapy monitoring for metastatic cancers. Current difficulties in detecting and eradicating these tumors significantly contribute to cancer mortality rates; therapies that are efficient for one patient often do not work for others. Their research uses “aptamers” – short DNA strands capable of selectively binding molecules on cell surfaces  to serve as tracers for metastatic cancer tumors and, potentially, as vehicles to deliver drugs to metastatic cells.

Wilcox and Kazimi will collaborate with Robert Allison, associate professor in the Faculty of Science & Engineering’s Department of Computer Science & Engineering, to create an independent S3D film installation based on a piece of dance choreography and presented in both a large-scale S3D projection format and on multiple S3D displays. Audience members will move through a gallery space and choose to view the large-scale screen or one of the alternative displays containing different motion in depth sequences. The project will evaluate movement’s effect through depth on observer preferences, determine if these preferences are contingent on the nature of the movement, and determine if pacing differences exist between 2D and S3D film content.

Right: Ali Kazimi

Jim Mirkopoulos, vice-president of operations for Toronto-based Cinespace Film Studios, is the project’s industry collaborator; Cinespace’s Kleinburg studios are providing space to set up and test the installation later in the project.

“These projects build on York’s expanding expertise in digital media and life science research, and our value-added industry-academic partnerships,” said Stan Shapson, vice-president Research & Innovation. “Depth in Motion is a natural next step in the 3D film research York began through the 3D FLIC project in partnership with Toronto-based industry leaders, and demonstrates the innovation unleashed when the creative arts and science converge. Professor Krylov’s work with AB SCIEX in York Region has a six-year history that involves two past successful collaborations and will further contribute York’s scientific expertise to the region’s growing and vibrant biotech sector.”

York’s projects were among 120 chosen to receive a total of $55 million in funding under NSERC’s Strategic Project Grants program, which aims to turn the results of academic research into real benefits for Canadians.

The announcement was made by Gary Goodyear, minister of state (Science & Technology) in Waterloo, Ontario. “Supporting science and research is critical to Canada’s future economic growth,” said Goodyear. “This investment will bring together 100 teams of some of the world’s top researchers to work with industry on promising new projects that will help strengthen our economy, create jobs and bring other benefits to communities.”

“These Strategic Project Grants show that the NSERC community has risen to the challenge and is putting the federal S&T strategy to work,” said NSERC President Suzanne Fortier. “We received a high number of quality submissions, and the peer review committees were impressed with the research teams’ excellence, their proposals’ importance and potential impact, and the strong support from partners.”

For a complete list of NSERC recipients, visit the NSERC website. 


By Elizabeth Monier-Williams, research communications officer