Government of Canada Invests in Research Excellence at Canadian Universities

Federal funding to attract best and brightest minds

CALGARY, Alberta, November 14, 2013 | Top researchers at Canadian universities will receive nearly $109 million in funding from the Government of Canada to pursue world-class research across all disciplines to improve the quality of life of Canadians. The Honourable Greg Rickford, minister of state (Science and Technology, and Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario), made the announcement today at the University of Calgary.

“Our government remains committed to attracting and retaining the world’s best researchers, creating jobs and strengthening our economy,” said Rickford. “Through programs such as the Canada Research Chairs, we are supporting cutting-edge research at Canadian universities and fostering innovation by helping researchers bring their ideas to the marketplace, to benefit Canadians and improve our quality of life.”

The Government of Canada will provide $108.9 million through the Canada Research Chairs Program, to support 135 newly awarded and renewed Canada Research Chairs. Of that total, 26 researchers have been recruited from abroad, including 11 Canadians returning to work in their home country—demonstrating the success of the program in attracting and supporting research excellence and innovation in Canada. The research will be conducted at 41 Canadian postsecondary institutions, and will lead to benefits for Canadian families, businesses, practitioners and policy-makers.

The Canada Research Chairs Program was created with an annual budget of $300 million to establish up to 2,000 research professorships across the country and to position Canada as a world leader in postsecondary research. The program currently supports researchers, in more than 70 Canadian postsecondary institutions, who are conducting research in natural sciences and engineering, health sciences, and social sciences and humanities disciplines.

Today’s event at the University of Calgary featured Dr. Sabine Gilch, Canada Research Chair in Prion Disease Research. The University of Calgary will receive $500,000 over five years to support the work of Gilch, a new Tier 2 chairholder. Her research explores the molecular and cellular biology of prion diseases such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as “mad cow disease,” and its human variant, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease; as well as “chronic wasting disease” affecting animals such as white-tailed and mule deer, elk and moose. Gilch’s goal is to identify new treatments for these currently untreatable and fatal diseases, thereby protecting the lives of Canadians.

“The scientific environment here at the University of Calgary is excellent,” said Gilch. “Alberta is really interesting, because there is no other place in the world that has to deal with both BSE and chronic wasting disease. My basic research on the cell biology of prion infection will benefit Canadians by leading to the discovery of new drug targets for treating prion diseases, and for limiting the spread of chronic wasting disease.”

“For more than 10 years, the Canada Research Chairs Program has served to attract the highest calibre of researchers across disciplines to Canadian postsecondary institutions,” said  Janet Walden, chief operating officer of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and member of the Canada Research Chairs Steering Committee. “The program is a magnet for expertise, talent and creativity. Through teaching and mentorship, the chairholders foster research excellence among the next generation of scholars.”

An additional $6.4 million for research infrastructure from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) was also announced, to support researchers by providing the most up-to-date facilities for conducting their innovative research.

“Since 2000, the CFI has provided Canada Research Chair holders with state-of-the-art equipment and facilities so they can explore the frontiers of knowledge,” says Dr. Gilles G. Patry, CFI’s president and CEO. “This research has led to new discoveries and innovations, and is helping Canadian businesses compete and create the jobs that we need today—and the jobs we will need tomorrow.”

A complete list of chairholders is available here.

Details on the CFI’s funding for research infrastructure associated with the new Chair awards are available on the CFI website.

Media contacts:

Stephanie Kale
Media Relations Advisor
Canada Research Chairs Program
Tel.: 613-996-8373

Mary Ann Dewey-Plante
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Greg Rickford
Minister of State (Science and Technology, and Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario)
Tel.: 613-943-6177

Yves Melanson
Co-ordinator, Media Relations           
Canada Foundation for Innovation
Tel.: 613-996-3160        

Leanne Yohemas
Manager, Media Relations
University of Calgary
Tel.: 403-540-6552