U of C gets $17.5 million for medical research

By Katie Hobday

Two researchers from the Faculty of Medicine at the U of C were awarded 17 million from Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). Dr. Paul Kubes, PhD, a professor of immunology from the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, was awarded $7,171,678. Dr. Garnette Sutherland, MD, a professor of neurosurgery from the Department of Clinical Neurosciences, was awarded $10,499,339.

Dr. Kubes credited organizations like CFI for helping make research and technological developments possible. Without funding from these groups, he said scientists at the University of Calgary would not be able to carry out the top quality research to the best of their capabilities.

"The reason CFI is so important is that it helps us bring clinicians and scientists together to approach [research] in a real systematic way," said Dr. Kubes, whose team includes post-doctorals and graduate students.

Dr. Kubes and his team will use their funding to create the Institute for Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, one of several institutes that will have a home in the new Health Science buildings currently under construction.

The institute will have three main themes explained Dr. Kubes: emerging infectious diseases, such as SARS and West Nile Virus; gastro-intestinal diseases, like inflammatory bowel disease; and lung and other auto-immune diseases, such as asthma.

The funding is much appreciated by Dr. Kubes and his team, because it will help give them the space required to expand their research.

"There are 23 people in my lab, and we are squished," said Dr. Kubes. "We can’t recruit. This is not an optimal situation. Most scientists are geared towards moving forward or trying to move forward. [CFI] is absolutely essential. Without CFI, we would not expand."

The $10 million awarded to Dr. Sutherland and his team will be put toward the development of Project neuroArm- an image guided surgical robot, designed to perform brain surgery under visual and MRI direction. Its goal is to reduce the invasiveness of brain surgery, as well using the device to perform operations that are not presently possible.

CFI offers funding and support to universities and other not-for-profit research institutions to carry out research and technological development. Applications are based on quality of research, its capacity for innovation, and how it will benefit Canada.

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