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 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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For more information, contact:

U of T Media Relations
Tel: 416-978-0100
media.relations@utoronto.ca