Waterloo scientists receive nearly $250K for state-of-the-art infrastructure

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Three Waterloo Science researchers received the John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF) from the Canada Foundation for Innovation thelp cover infrastructure costs to support their cutting-edge research. 

Professor Paul Craig

Assistant Professor Paul Craig (left), from the Department of Biology, will receive a grant of $120,000 from the John R. Evans Leaders Fund for his research on the long-term impact of anti-depressants and climate change on fish populations.

Fish and other aquatic species have the ability to pass down the effects of environmental contaminants from one generation to the next.

This work is in collaboration with Barb Katzenback, a Banting postdoctoral fellow from the Department of Biology.

Even low doses of pharmaceuticals in aquatic environments can significantly impact the health of Canadian fish species. Research shows that in combination with warming temperatures, contaminant exposure of fish can exacerbate the non-genetic modifications that occur, and these characteristics of exposure can be passed on to their offspring through non-genetic inheritance, also known as epigenetics.

Aquatic species, like fish, can act as sentinels for the health and sustainability of Canadian waterways for the population at large," said Craig, a professor in Waterloo's Department of Biology. "By taking an epigenetic approach, we can examine the long-term impact of contaminants across multiple generations of fish."

The researchers will measure the multi-generational effect of these contaminants by measuring the non-genetic traits — those caused by an animal's environment — that they pass on to subsequent generations. Since clean drinking water is of direct importance to global health, this research may inform policies on limiting aquatic contamination and sustaining reliable sources of drinking water.

Prof. Ben ThompsonAdditionally, Associate Professor Ben Thompson, from the School of Optometry and Vision Science, will receive a grant of $100,000 from the John R. Evans Leaders Fund for his research into the effects of non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) on disorders originating in the brain’s visual cortex.

In addition to creating a foundation for the therapeutic application of this emerging technology, Thompson will explore how NBIS can improve vision in patients suffering from amblyopia, which is currently left untreated in adults.

Praveen Nekkar RaoFinally, Associate Professor Praveen Nekkar Rao  (right), from the School of Pharmacy, will receive a grant of $26,800 from the John R. Evans Leaders Fund to purchase a state-of-the-art Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectroscopy System.

The instrument is expected to help detail the structure of a promising class of therapeutic drugs as well as provide new insights into the molecular mechanisms of the disease itself. The addition to research, the instrument will also be used to train the next generation of pharmaceutical researchers specialised in Alzheimer’s disease.

The CFI’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund is about remarkable people, and the latest recipients of this fund are no exception,” said Gilles Patry, president and CEO of the Canada Foundation for Innovation. “By equipping world-class researchers with state-of-the-art tools, Canada remains a global competitor in areas that matter to people in communities around the country.”

The John R. Evans Leaders Fund was developed to help Canadian universities attract and retain top research talent.  More information on the awards and the Canada Foundation for Innovation is available at www.innovation.ca.