Media Releases

Canada Foundation for Innovation invests $21 million in U of T research

January 15, 2013

TORONTO, ON – Most peo­ple choose not to think about the tril­lions of micro-organ­isms – bac­te­ria, virus­es and fun­gi – that live on and inside our bod­ies. But like it or not, these microbes have a tremen­dous impact on many aspects of health and dis­ease.

They’re also at the heart of Dana Philpott’s research and a new $6‑million Cana­da Foun­da­tion for Inno­va­tion (CFI)-funded research project: U of T’s Host-Micro­bio­me Research Net­work.

Philpott’s project is one of nine research projects at U of T that have been award­ed a total of $21 mil­lion from the CFI.

Philpott, an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor in the Temer­ty Temer­ty Fac­ul­ty of Medicine’s Depart­ment of Immunol­o­gy, says these microbes may cause inflam­ma­tion inside the body, which many sci­en­tists believe is the root cause of many chron­ic dis­eases, includ­ing dia­betes and obe­si­ty.

“Right now, we have no idea what a nor­mal micro­bial pro­file looks like, but we do know that some bac­te­ria can cause inflam­ma­tion,” says Philpott, who, along with Ken Croitoru, pro­fes­sor in the Depart­ment of Med­i­cine and Divi­sion of Gas­troen­terol­o­gy at Mount Sinai Hos­pi­tal, will lead work at the Research Net­work, locat­ed in U of T and Mount Sinai Hos­pi­tal lab­o­ra­to­ries.

“If we can get rid of the inflam­ma­tion-caus­ing bac­te­ria using tar­get­ed antibi­otics or pro­bi­ot­ic cock­tails, we might be able to treat or even pre­vent dis­ease. This could rep­re­sent a new aspect of per­son­al­ized med­i­cine.”

The awards are part of a total of $166 mil­lion award­ed by the CFI to insti­tu­tions across Cana­da.  The CFI is an inde­pen­dent cor­po­ra­tion cre­at­ed by the Gov­ern­ment of Cana­da to fund research infra­struc­ture. This round of invest­ment is from the CFI’s Lead­ing Edge Fund and New Ini­tia­tives Fund. CFI announced the fund­ing on Jan. 15.

“Research and inno­va­tion is a force­ful dri­ver of growth in our com­mu­ni­ties,” said Gilles G. Patry, pres­i­dent and CEO of CFI. “Today’s fund­ing will allow a tal­ent­ed group of researchers and stu­dents to cre­ate the solu­tions, prod­ucts and ideas Cana­da needs to pros­per.”

The oth­er U of T win­ners are:

Lead­ing Edge Fund

  • Cen­tre for Bio­foul­ing Con­trol, Gilbert Walk­er, Chem­istry, $594,445
  • Cen­tre for Chem­i­cal Analy­sis, Andrei Yudin, Chem­istry, $656,767
  • Devel­op­ment of Open-Access Research Tools for Epi­ge­net­ics, Cheryl Arrow­smith, Med­ical Bio­physics, $2,402,926
  • Nano­ma­te­ri­als for Ener­gy, Ted Sar­gent, Edward S. Rogers Depart­ment of Elec­tri­cal and Com­put­er Engi­neer­ing, $3,412,588
  • Ontario Cen­tre for Char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of Advanced Mate­ri­als, Charles Mims, Chem­i­cal Engi­neer­ing & Applied Chem­istry, $4,601,343
  • Tech­nol­o­gy and Instru­ment Devel­op­ments for Space and Ground-based Astron­o­my, Dae-Sik Moon, Astron­o­my & Astro­physics, $400,000

New Ini­tia­tives Fund

  • Cen­tre for the Eval­u­a­tion of Tech­no­log­i­cal Inno­va­tion (CETI), Mur­ray Krahn, Leslie Dan Fac­ul­ty of Phar­ma­cy, $1,199,915
  • High-Pres­sure Blow-Down Facil­i­ty for Gas Tur­bine Com­bus­tion Research, Omer Gul­der, Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to Insti­tute for Aero­space Stud­ies, $2,040,000

CFI also award­ed $12.4 mil­lion to projects at four of U of T’s part­ner hos­pi­tals – the Cen­tre for Addic­tion and Men­tal Health, the Hos­pi­tal for Sick Chil­dren, Sun­ny­brook Research Insti­tute and the Uni­ver­si­ty Health Net­work.

“Con­grat­u­la­tions to each of the fac­ul­ty mem­bers being sup­port­ed through this announce­ment,” said Pro­fes­sor Paul Young, U of T’s vice pres­i­dent (research and inno­va­tion). “They will be pur­su­ing basic and applied research in areas that will improve our lives and con­tribute to Cana­di­an pros­per­i­ty. We are deeply grate­ful to the CFI for this invest­ment.”

Young notes that the com­bined U of T and part­ner hos­pi­tals awards total $33.4 mil­lion, which rep­re­sents 20% of the nation­al total CFI announced.  “This is a fab­u­lous suc­cess rate and points clear­ly to the inno­va­tion and impact in all of these research projects,” said Young.


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