UNIVERSITY OF SASKATCHEWAN December 21 , 2005 Issue 15
U of S Economist Appointed to Public Policy Institute
U of S associate professor in agricultural economics Rose Olfert has been appointed Associate Director of the Saskatchewan Institute of Public Policy (SIPP), based at the University of Regina. Olfert, a member of the Canada Rural Economy Research Lab (C-RERL) at the U of S, has contributed to numerous research and policy papers and given presentations to provincial and national audiences on the future of rural economies. The appointment, supported by SIPP and Saskatchewan Learning, enhances the university’s engagement in public policy development with partners in government, the private sector, and community organizations. Public policy research is an area of strategic importance identified in U of S integrated planning.Olfert plans to begin with two public policy events early in 2006.
Kraatz wins CSC Award for Pure or Applied Inorganic Chemistry
Canada Research Chair and chemistry professor Heinz-Bernhard Kraatz has received the Canadian Society for Chemistry’s 2006 Award for Pure or Applied Inorganic Chemistry. The award honours chemists within 10 years of their first professional appointment as an independent researcher in academic, government or industrial sectors, who have made an outstanding contribution to inorganic chemistry, demonstrating exceptional promise, while working in Canada. Kraatz’s research team is one of the few groups world-wide that have the capacity to characterize the electronic properties of biomolecules linked to surfaces. The Award is among those considered in the Maclean’s university rankings.
Babiuk to be featured at College of Medicine Speaker’s Forum
Lorne Babiuk, director of the U of S Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO), is featured at a speaker's forum sponsored by CIHR and the College of Medicine at the Royal University Hospital’s Theatre in the Mall on Jan. 27, 2006. Babiuk, awarded both the Order of Canada and the Prix Galien in 2005, will speak on the evolution of VIDO over 30 years into a pre-eminent research institute, investigating technologies to reduce the economic costs associated with infectious diseases and to improve the quality of life of all of society. Specific examples of nascent technologies under development at VIDO will be described.
College of Nursing Research Day Deadline Approaching
Faculty and graduate student research will be showcased at the College of Nursing Research Day on Feb. 1, 2006 at Queensbury Downs at Regina Exhibition Park in Regina. Dr. Janet Smylie, director of the Indigenous Peoples’ Health Research Centre (IPHRC) is keynote speaker. Smylie is also associate professor with the department of community health and epidemiology in the U of S College of Medicine. Upper year classes have been cancelled for the day and students are required to attend. Return transportation will be provided from Prince Albert and Saskatoon to Regina. Registration is free; deadline is Jan. 13, 2006. To register, e-mail ConNursEd@usask.ca, or fax to 966-7673.
“Going Corporate” Workshop comes to Saskatoon in January
The U of S Industry Liaison Office with its partners WestLink Innovation Network Inc. and Ag-West Bio Inc. present “Going Corporate - From the Lab to the Market” on Jan. 18, 2006 at the Sheraton Cavalier. This seminar steps through specific issues researchers-turned-entrepreneurs face as they progress from an idea to a functioning company. It is designed for university and research institute faculty, staff, and students, local entrepreneurs, public-sector and private-sector investors, and anyone interested in forming new technology companies. To register, visit http://westlink.ca/GoingCorporate/index.php.
Enzyme imbalance points to new treatments for epilepsy and other diseases
U of S researchers have discovered an imbalance between a basic enzyme and its inhibitor may lie at the root of diseases such as epilepsy and cancer. Pathology professor and Saskatoon Cancer Centre researcher Dr. Rajendra Sharma led the team that looked at the enzyme NMT and one of its inhibitors in epileptic chickens. The CIHR-funded study, published in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, found the birds had higher than normal levels of NMT and lower than normal inhibitor protein levels. This work was carried out by Dr. Ponniah Selvakumar in Sharma’s laboratory. NMT, a basic enzyme involved in many different cell functions, can cause havoc within the cell if unregulated by inhibitors. The researchers have already discovered two NMT inhibitors that may be useful in regulating the enzyme, and with it, a wide range of diseases.
WestGrid II Initiative Seeks Faculty Input on High-Performance Computing
The face of high-performance computing (HPC) is poised for an imminent and dramatic change across Canada. As part of this, the UofS is preparing to join WestGrid II, a consortium of Western Canadian universities that pools HPC resources. The Canada Foundation for Innovation has also made it clear that the various regional HPC consortia in Canada should come together to present a unified plan in order to secure a stable stream of future funding in support of the long-range plan for HPC in Canada. Faculty needing high-performance computing including high-performance data storage, data visualization, raw compute power, or software can contribute by contacting project leader Raymond Spiteri at 966-2909 with their specific HPC expertise and needs, preferably by Dec. 30th, 2005.
New Dean of University Library Appointed
Vicki Williamson has been appointed Dean of the University Library for a five-year renewable term, effective March 1, 2006. It is the first appointment of its kind in Canada. Williamson is currently Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Administrative and Academic Support) at the University of Ballarat in Australia. She has published widely; her current research interests include innovation, change management, and strategic planning in education environments; organizational culture of universities, and professional development for library and information professionals.
NSERC offers new $250,000 Award for an Outstanding Advance
The new NSERC John C. Polanyi Award for an Outstanding Advance in the Natural Sciences and Engineering includes a medal and a $250,000 research grant. It honours “the extraordinary accomplishments and the pursuit of excellence exemplified by Dr. Polanyi,” the 1986 Nobel prize-winner in chemistry whose molecular beam and infrared chemiluminescence experiments have had a long-term impact on science and technology. Nominees for the Polanyi Award must be university researchers or teams of researchers holding an NSERC grant. The work that led to their nomination must have been supported by NSERC, and they must be nominated by two active researchers from the Canadian science and research community. For assistance in developing nominations, contact Mary Walters, U of S Awards Facilitator, 966-2499. Deadline for nominations is March 1, 2006.
U of S Spinoff Adnavance Attracts $3.85 M Investment
University of Saskatchewan spinoff company Adnavance Technologies Inc. has attracted a $3.85-million investment from four venture capital organizations to develop biosensors for diagnosing disease, novel DNA-based vaccines, and a new method for producing hydrogen for fuel cells. The deal, announced Nov. 21, was coordinated through the U of S Industry Liaison Office (ILO). It includes investment from the Canadian Medical Discoveries Fund, the Working Opportunity Fund (managed by GrowthWorks Capital) the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), and B.C. Medical Innovations. The strategic investments are aimed at producing prototypes to trigger industry partnerships and eventually bring the products to market.
CIHR Backs Veterinary Immunologist’s Asthma Research
Dr. John Gordon in the department of veterinary microbiology has been awarded nearly $340,000 over three years from CIHR to study allergic asthma therapies. Gordon has successfully used “tolerizing” or immunosuppressive dendritic cell therapy to eliminate the disease in severely asthmatic laboratory animals. His team also showed this process works with cells from allergic people, making them less prone to allergic reaction. Gordon will continue to investigate the mechanisms that control the process in order to improve its effects. He will also explore applications for other autoimmune disorders such as arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
Merck-Merial Renews Funding for Veterinary Scholar Program
The Western College of Veterinary Medicine’s success in hosting the Merck-Merial Veterinary Scholar program for the first time in 2005 has led to funding for 2006. Ranked as one of the top five schools participating in the summer research student program, WCVM received $25,000 from Merck-Merial — a $2,300 increase. With matching money from the College, six to seven undergraduate students will participate in next summer’s program. Five WCVM students and one Swiss student took part in the 16-week initiative, designed to enrich first- and second-year veterinary students’ exposure and experience in biomedical research. These include Dan Robertson, Jane Noble, Ryan Mohr and Kelsey Clarke (pictured here with program director Dr. Baljit Singh) as well as Bryan Macbeth and Andrea Aebischer. The students conducted projects, toured local research centres and traveled to the University of Georgia to present their research posters at the Merck-Merial scholars’ symposium alongside students from 19 other North American veterinary colleges.
“Looking Back” History Exhibit at Diefenbaker Centre
The Diefenbaker Canada Centre presents “Looking Back: True Tales from Saskatchewan’s Past,” an exhibition based on the CBC TV production produced by CBC’s Paul Dederick and researched, written and hosted by U of S history professor and Distinguished Researcher Bill Waiser. The exhibit continues until Feb. 26, 2006 (photo courtesy U of S Archives).
English PhD student wins lieutenant governor’s award
English graduate student Holly Luhning was awarded the Lieutenant Governor’s “30 Below (Youth)” award in Regina on November 17. This award recognizes new and developing talented individuals who have earned significant recognition in their career and who, in the jury’s opinion, show exceptional promise. Luhning, a promising writer from Lumsden, Saskatchewan, published Sway, her first book of poems, with Thistledown Press, in 2003. She is currently writing a novel. The award is the second major honour for a graduate student in the department of English in November. Tasha Hubbard was honoured with the Canada Award at the Geminis for her documentary film, “Two Worlds Colliding.”
Fortier Appointed New NSERC President
Suzanne Fortier was appointed president of NSERC, it was announced Nov. 23. A crystallographer by training, Fortier holds a PhD from McGill. She has held research positions at the Medical Foundation of Buffalo, the National Research Council of Canada, and various senior executive positions at Queen’s University. In 2005, she received a Distinguished Service Award from the Queen's University Council for her exceptional contributions to research and academics and her devotion to the University. She also served on the Board of Directors for the Ontario Centres of Excellence and serves on the Board of Governors for the Royal Military College of Canada.