CRC honourees

Left to right: Jack Callaghan, Abigail Scholer, Frank Gu, Ken Stark.

Jack Callaghan’s research into lumbar spine function and spinal injury is influencing workplace standards, helping to prevent spinal injuries and improve treatment for people suffering from lower-back pain. His research in two labs ranges from fundamental tissue injury examining isolated spinal tissues, to field research assessing occupational exposures for police officers, assembly line workers, office workers and others. Callaghan, a professor of kinesiology in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, advances to a Tier 1 chair in Spine Biomechanics and Injury Prevention.  He has held a Tier 2 chair since 2003.

Frank Gu will change medical treatment and diagnosis on a nano-scale, by bringing biology and engineering together. The assistant professor of chemical engineering in the Faculty of Engineering heads the Laboratory of Advanced Targeted Delivery Systems, and was awarded a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Advanced Targeted Delivery Systems. Tiny machines developed in his nanotechnology lab may someday move through the bloodstream of a cancer patient to attack a tumour. Gu also studies how nanoparticles might rid of drinking water of contaminants missed by conventional water treatment, or lead to more effective eye drops.

Abigail Scholer, an assistant professor of psychology in the Faculty of Arts, studies the way people regulate their own behaviour, and the reasons that we sometimes don’t. Encompassing everything from lifestyle choices to eating habits, it’s not a trivial matter — in North America, the leading causes of death are due to modifiable behaviours involving self-regulation. Scholer’s research examines factors that reduce failure and increase success in in the face of temptations, the management of change, and the pursuit of important long-term goals. Her work could lead to the development of interventions that could help people make better choices. Scholer was awarded the Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Motivated Social Cognition.

Ken Stark, studies lipidomics, cell membranes that may offer better understanding of the links between diet and disease, and the ways cells communicate with one another. He likens the work to dietary forensics, with lipids telling the story of what a person eats and how that diet impacts health. “We are what we eat, and that definitely applies to lipids,” says Stark, an associate professor of kinesiology, in Faculty of Applied Health Sciences. He was awarded the Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Nutritional Lipidomics.

The latest additions to the Canada Research Chairs roster were announced at the University of Toronto on Friday, Oct. 12. There are 2,000 Canada Research Chairs at institutions across the country, including 60 at the University of Waterloo.