Setting the bar for global leadership in Canadian research

A compilation of five images of a dark blue starry sky, an orange laptopon an orange background, a digital scan of the human brain, a wide expanse of blue ocean under a blue sky and a pregnant woman holding a glass of water in one hand and a few pills in the other.

Setting the bar for global leadership in Canadian research

Researchers across Canada are poised to have a transformative impact with new support from our Innovation Fund
March 3, 2021

The success of the Canadian research community rests on its ability to realize the full potential of both its people and its research infrastructure. Infrastructure projects funded through the Innovation Fund 2020 competition will help Canadian researchers remain at the global forefront of exploration and knowledge. Using state-of-the-art tools, they will be able to create meaningful social, health, environmental and economic benefits and address global challenges.

Here are a few of the research infrastructure projects that received funding — and stories about what they will allow researchers to accomplish:

  • More than 75 percent of pregnant women take medications for which we have little information on the risks or benefits. Clinical trials usually exclude them to protect their babies. The unintended consequence is that they have little evidence-based guidance when it comes to deciding whether to keep taking their medications or start a new therapy during pregnancy. “We know pregnant women with epilepsy for example will sometimes stop their medication because they’re afraid for their baby, says Anick Bérard, who is a co-leader on the project and a researcher at the Université de...
  • Ninety-eight percent of a rocket’s mass is fuel — fuel necessary for it to overcome Earth’s gravity and launch into space. The remaining two percent comes from the rocket and payload. Reduce even a small amount of that two percent, and you can substantially cut back on fuel. This in turn could save money and lessen environmental impact. York University mechanical and space engineer Zheng Hong (George) Zhu and and Western University material, mechanical and biomedical engineer, Jun Yang,  are working to do just that with an ambitious project that is a mix of space flight and medical...
  • More than four million Canadians suffer from brain diseases such as dementia, Parkinson’s, stroke, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, and mental health disorders, and yet advances in treatment have been frustratingly slow. The problem, says University of Toronto immunologist Jen Gommerman, is that these are not just brain diseases. They are whole body diseases. “It’s becoming clear that they have something in common and that is the immune system,” she says. “The immune system lives in all parts of the body and it’s educated by environmental factors — the gut microbiome and...
  • According to Raymond Frogner, “We are what we choose to remember. We are also what we choose to forget.” That is the driving force behind a University of Manitoba project to build the digital architecture for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. The centre is the archival repository for material collected by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. It was created to compile the complete history and legacy of the country’s residential school system. That amounts to more than five million documents — from different sources, in different formats and in different...
  • In the upper 2,000 metres of the North Atlantic Ocean, an array of free-drifting floating sensors will soon reveal detailed data about the effect climate change is having on the region’s lucrative fisheries. Starting as early as next fall, the Argo floats will begin making weekly trips from the deep ocean to the surface of the northwest North Atlantic Ocean and the Labrador Sea. On the way up, their miniature sensors will measure oxygen, nitrate, pH, suspended particles, chlorophyll, light, temperature and salinity. They will then beam that data in real time via satellite to a network of...