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You are here: ROADS at McMaster > News > More than $1.8M to equip cutting-edge labs. September 7, 2011

More than $1.8M to equip cutting-edge labs. September 7, 2011

Designing automotive software that can predict and prevent failures before they happen, discovering why some microbes in our bodies keep us healthy, while others cause illness and disease, engineering drugs with the ability to get the right dosage, to the right place in the body at the right time, understanding Earth's environmental history to better predict future climate changes, and measuring the relationship between physical activity and health in children - all are projects earmarked for funding by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

Five labs from across campus will be taking delivery of new equipment, thanks to the CFI's Leaders Opportunity Fund - a program which invests in state-of-the-art facilities and equipment to attract and retain today's best research talent. The equipment ranges from large memory computers to instruments on the nanoscale, to a high precision mass spectrometer, and from a facility to measure children's health to a high capacity Biosafety Level 2 facility to culture and characterize microbial communities.

"This investment will help create the partnerships that will continue building McMaster's research capacity in areas such as healthcare, the automotive industry, infectious diseases and the environment," said Mo Elbestawi, vice-president research and international affairs. "The vision behind these pioneering research projects illustrate why McMaster is one of Canada's premier research Universities."

Perhaps the most important aspect of one of the projects, the new SoftAuto Lab, is that Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP) ranging from undergraduate interns to research engineers and technicians will have access to state-of-the-art model-driven development tools in current use in industry.

"The SoftAuto Lab will help HQP envision where automotive electronics might be a decade from now. This will allow them to not only ask 'what if' questions, but to actually try out their ideas," said project leader Mark Lawford, associate professor of computing and software.

The SoftAuto Lab will build on McMaster's reputation as a world leader in software certification.

IBM's Don Aldridge, industry executive, research notes that the amount of software - in the order of 100 million lines of code - in today's automobiles necessitates certification that the software will actually work in every possible situation.

"McMaster is leading the effort to address this, not only for automobiles, but for all areas where computer technology intersects with mechanical systems - and that's a huge task. The work at McMaster is 100 per cent consistent with IBM's efforts to create a "smarter planet" and we're excited to be working with the world-class team at McMaster," said Aldridge.

Mike Wallace, Member of Parliament for Burlington, commended McMaster on the funding it was awarded and said "McMaster University is playing a key role in Canada's science and technology strategy. The five projects awarded funding by the Canada Foundation for Innovation exemplify the kind of research in innovation that will create high quality jobs and allow Canada to compete globally."

The five projects awarded infrastructure funding will purchase equipment for:

Characterization and Testing of Smart Hydrogel Materials for Biomedicine , a project led by Assistant Professor Todd Hoare, Department of Chemical Engineering. The $119,611 award is for equipment to develop "smart" drug delivery devices that will provide for dynamically-changing drug release according to patient needs.

A Laboratory for Rare Stable Isotope Research that will use the $240,000 funding award to purchase a mass spectrometer to analyze rare stable isotopes and isotopologues. Project leader Sang-Tae Kim, an assistant professor in the School of Geography & Earth Sciences, will establish an analytical facility in which cutting-edge research on the Earth's past environmental history will help inform better projections of Earth's future environmental variability.

Laboratory Support for Model Driven Engineering of Software for Automotive Applications, a first of its kind research lab (SoftAuto Lab) which will be established in the new McMaster Automotive Resource Centre, located at the McMaster Innovation Park. Project leader Mark Lawford will be joined on the project by his computing and software colleagues Tom Maibaum, Canada Research Chair in Software Engineering and Alan Wassyng, Director of the McMaster Centre for Software Certification (McSCert).

Michael Surette's Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Microbiome Research in Health and Disease , which will be a high capacity Biosafety Level 2 facility dedicated to culturing, characterization and rapid molecular profiling of microbial communities of the human microbiome. The lab received $727,419 for the novel research it will pursue, including opportunities for improved disease management, identification of new pathogens, development of new diagnostics and discerning how normal microbiota contribute to health. Surette, Canada Research Chair Interdisciplinary Microbiome Research, will collaborate with researchers from the Institute for Infectious Disease Research and the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute.

Brian Timmons' Pediatric Exercise and Environmental Testing and Flow Cytometry Suite will be furnished with equipment geared to studying the physical activity-to-health connection in young children. The $350,975 funding award will advance a broad agenda of child health. "My research program takes a lab bench to park bench approach with the goal to generate the necessary knowledge on which to build public health policies and standards of clinical care to promote active living during the growing years," said the assistant professor of pediatrics.

"CFI investments provide vital infrastructure in communities across the country and create opportunities for leveraging the work being undertaken by our enterprising researchers," said Dr. Gilles G. Patry, CFI President and CEO. "Cutting-edge research facilities are magnets that attract the best talent from around the world, allowing them to work with business and train a new generation of Canadian researchers and innovators."

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