Antimatter, a high-tech couch and a blood test for head injuries

Canadian researchers explore the outer limits of science with the support of the Canada Foundation for Innovation
May 29, 2015

OTTAWA, ONTARIO — Canada’s researchers are poised to push the boundaries of what we know in medicine, smart technology, ecology and particle physics with the support of more than $333 million in funding for research infrastructure announced by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) this week. Here is a small sample of some of the groundbreaking projects supported by these investments.

Antimatter vs. gravity
The atoms racing through a lab underneath Switzerland and France will be slowed to a standstill by University of Calgary’s Robert Thompson with the help of new CFI-funded infrastructure.
The particle physicist will join an international team of researchers to build the next generation of equipment at CERN that can then be used to “freeze” antimatter protons emitted after their matter-twin (aka protons) have been smashed into a metal target at a high speed. Thompson’s goal? To find out whether antimatter falls up or down.

Danger zone
Major earthquakes can cause massive destruction to a city and its people: fires, explosions, floods and exposure brought about when municipal infrastructure crumbles. With the support of the CFI, David Lau, a structural engineer at Carleton University, in Ottawa, will build a network of hazard labs in the National Capital Region and elsewhere that will measure the full scope of the dangers brought on by natural disasters. Lau’s research will lead to new technologies, materials and infrastructure that may be capable of withstanding wave upon wave
of destruction.

A(head) of the game
How soon after a head injury can a patient return to the playing field? The answer to this question has eluded doctors for years, unable to actually see symptoms of injury in the brain scans of a concussed patient, that is, until now. McGill University neuroscientists are using CFI funding to get specialized imaging equipment that will enable them to see changes in brain structure as well as brain activity in patients who have suffered head trauma, such as sports-related concussions. Alain Ptito, Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill and a medical scientist at the Research Institute of the MUHC and his team will use the new equipment to better diagnose the extent of these injuries and to ultimately develop blood tests that will tell them when patients are truly ready to return to work or to the rink.

The University of Waterloo’s Dan Vogel is designing your high-tech living room of the future: walls that ripple for an incoming call, a couch that makes sure your favourite show is ready to stream the moment you flop down. CFI funding will help the computer scientist create a lab where he can work with his counterparts in fine arts to design and build digitally immersive interiors where otherwise ordinary surfaces and objects are capable of collecting your daily data while responding to your needs — all without you having to lift a finger.

A real pain
Morphine remains the gold standard for the treatment of chronic pain for the past 50 years,
but we don’t know what goes on in someone’s brain that determines the effectiveness of a painkiller. As Canada’s population ages, and as the need for pain medication increases, researchers such as Philippe Sarret from the Université de Sherbrooke are exploring the potential of new pain targets and developing new analgesic molecules to concoct the next generation of painkilling cocktails.

These are just some of the stories CFI-funded researchers at universities across the country are prepared to discuss. For additional stories, visit the CFI’s website or contact our media relations team listed below.

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A full list of the funded projects is available online at For updates, follow us on Twitter @InnovationCA and subscribe to our Youtube channel for videos about the difference CFI funding makes in Canada.

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Scott French
Director of Communications and Parliamentary Affairs
Office of the Minister of State (Science and Technology)

Media Relations
Industry Canada
media-relations [at]

Malorie Bertrand
Media relations and communications officer
Canada Foundation for Innovation
Office: 613-943-2580
malorie.bertrand [at]