Ensuring Canadian researchers are well equipped to tackle the pandemic
New funding for equipment and tools provides researchers the support necessary to do their jobs in trying times
OTTAWA, ONTARIO — As the global threat of COVID-19 remains ever present, Canadian researchers are working tirelessly to better understand and combat the virus. Whether developing a vaccine, learning about how COVID-19 affects the body or studying how the pandemic has influenced every aspect of our lives, Canada’s researchers rely on cutting-edge research infrastructure to do their work.
Today, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced close to $28 million in research infrastructure support through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) Exceptional Opportunities Fund. The funding, which covers the urgent need for equipment for ongoing research related to COVID-19, will support 79 projects at 52 universities and research hospitals, colleges, polytechnics and Cégeps across Canada.
This includes support for Dr. Mari DeMarco and her team at The University of British Columbia, who are researching how COVID-19 damages human lung and heart tissue. They are examining how the virus’ genetic code will affect the severity of the disease and developing new, innovative diagnostic tools that will easily detect the virus.
Other exceptional projects the CFI is supporting with research infrastructure funding include:
Researchers at Dalhousie University in Halifax will advance the development of new COVID-19 vaccines with upgrades to the affiliated IWK Health Centre’s containment level 3 facility. This will allow them to create models of COVID-19 to test the efficacy of vaccines, learn why people develop different degrees of severity of the disease, and produce new tests to tell at the earliest stages of infection who maybe hit the hardest.
At Cégep André-Laurendeau in LaSalle, researchers will use 3-D capture technology powered by artificial intelligence to monitor, in real time, the distance between people in public spaces, such as schools and shopping centres. This could help people maintain a safe distance from one another by displaying their locations on screens. It could also improve the layout of public spaces by finding areas where physical distancing is difficult.
Evidence shows that COVID-19 could be a vascular disease that affects blood vessels. A research team at the University of Calgary will use a new, state-of-the-art microscope — the only one in Canada that can look into lung blood vessels at a cellular level — to investigate the hypothesis.
“Canadian researchers and scientists are helping to protect our health and safety and are key to finding our way out of the COVID-19 pandemic. With this funding through the Exceptional Opportunities Fund, the Government of Canada is ensuring these talented Canadians have the equipment and tools to support them in their very important work.”
- The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry
“Canadian researchers’ immediate response to the pandemic has demonstrated the research community’s crucial role in helping to resolve this crisis. Working to find a vaccine, to learn about how COVID-19 affects the human body, or to study how this pandemic has influenced every aspect of our lives, Canada’s researchers have taken centre stage as our guides and our source of hope. The CFI is proud to support their efforts by equipping them with the research infrastructure they need to further their significant work.”
Total funding is $27,617,017 for 79 projects at 52 institutions across the country.
The Exceptional Opportunities Fund is designed for those few instances when an exceptional research opportunity would be missed if a project had to wait to undergo the normal course of a national competition before a decision could be made.
In response to the current pandemic, the CFI launched EOF–COVID-19 competitions for universities, research hospitals, and colleges, polytechnics and Cégeps with the objective of supporting urgent needs for equipment for ongoing research related to COVID-19.
As an exception to our usual competitions, the CFI is covering up to 100 percent of the eligible costs of a project.
For more than 20 years, the CFI has been giving researchers the tools they need to think big and innovate. Fostering a robust innovation system in Canada translates into jobs and new enterprises, better health, cleaner environments and, ultimately, vibrant communities. By investing in state-of-the-art facilities and equipment in Canada’s universities, colleges, research hospitals and non-profit research institutions, the CFI also helps to attract and retain the world’s top talent, to train the next generation of researchers and to support world-class research that strengthens the economy and improves the quality of life for all Canadians.
A full list of the funded projects and stories about the facilities we fund are available online at Innovation.ca. For updates, follow us on Twitter @InnovationCA and subscribe to our YouTube channel for videos about the CFI and its many transformative research projects.
Media Relations and Social Media Specialist
Canada Foundation for Innovation
C: 613-227-0198 malorie.bertrand [at] innovation.ca (malorie[dot]bertrand[at]innovation[dot]ca)
Innovation, Science, and Economic
O: 343-291-1777 ic.mediarelations-mediasrelations.ic [at] canada.ca (ic[dot]mediarelations-mediasrelations[dot]ic[at]canada[dot]ca)
Office of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry