University of Saskatchewan

September 21, 2014   

Research News Issue 45 March 31, 2008

March 31, 2008

Produced by Research Communications for the University of Saskatchewan

March 31st , 2008 Issue 45

In This Issue

College of Medicine Helps Educate About Stroke Prevention in India
International Team Makes Superconductor Discovery
U of S Researchers Awarded $3.81 M by CFI, NSERC
Engineering Celebrates Interdisciplinary Research Success April 2nd
U of S Health Scientist Offers New Hope For Nerve Regeneration
New Non-Profit Company Formed on Campus to Fast-Track Vaccine Development
Congress 2007 Final Report: "Eight Days at U of S That Engaged the Nation"
3rd Annual Library Dean’s Lecture Explores Future of Research Archives
Research Ethics Office Consolidates and Educates
Physics Presents an April 8th Symposium on Clean Energy Solutions
New SK Public Policy School to Open This Fall
U of S to Host World Conference on Mental Health Planning
Symposium Addresses Shifting Trends in Drug Trials
Ag-West Bio presents Improving Human Health II: Pre-diabetes Workshop
New Personnel Named to Two OVPR Positions

College of Medicine Helps Educate About Stroke Prevention in India

Valli Alagappan, managing trustee of Omayal Achi College of Nursing and VP Research Steven Franklin exchange documents in Chennai on March 24th. (PHOTO: R. SHIVAJI)

A research team from the College of Medicine has improved the health of a small Indian village thanks to a partnership between the U of S and a local nursing college. The story made headlines in India last week when a 13-member delegation led by Vice President Research Steven Franklin made a stop in the region during a 10-day trip to India to establish partnerships in research and student recruitment.

Students from the Omayal Achi College of Nursing in Chennai, India have collaborated with the College of Medicine for the past 14 years, conducting research on Arakkampakkam residents' awareness of stroke prevention, stroke signs and symptoms.

As few in the village were aware of risk factors, the institutions focused on initiatives to educate residents about hypertension. As a result, 39 communities will benefit from a community-based stroke prevention program that will commence shortly.

On March 24th, the U of S signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chennai nursing college to conduct further research aimed at creating awareness and formulating treatment strategies for hypertension and stroke.


International Team Makes Superconductor Discovery

U of S Canada Research Chair John Tse and colleagues in Germany have provided the first evidence that superconductivity can occur in a very common gaseous hydrogen compound -- silane -- when compressed to a solid at very high pressure.

This finding, published in Science, advances understanding and potentially the design of more efficient superconducting materials that could have a wide variety of industrial applications.

"Our research in this area is aimed at improving the critical temperature for superconductivity so that new superconductors can be operated at higher temperatures," said Tse.

He carried out the theoretical work with doctoral candidate Yansun Yao using the WestGrid computing facility. The experimental work was performed by researcher Mikhail Eremets at the Max Planck Institute in Germany.

For the full story at Science Daily: 23250.htm or see the press release at:


U of S Researchers Awarded $3.81 M by CFI, NSERC

U of S researchers did extremely well in recently announced results for NSERC Strategic Grants and CFI Leaders Opportunity Fund, winning a combined total of $3.81 million in research funds.

  • In an announcement made in Edmonton on March 26th, the U of S had a 100-per-cent success rate with applications to the CFI Leaders Opportunity Fund -- all seven proposals were granted funds. Projects include the effect of air pollutants on blood pressure, monitoring how patients adhere to medical advice, and how bone growth in adolescence affects skeletal health in later years. Recipients are:

    - Michel Gravel (chemistry)
    - Paul Hackett (geography and SPHERU)
    - Saija Kontulainen (kinesiology)
    - Lixin Liu (pharmacology)
    - Michael Nickerson (food and bioproduct sciences)
    - Raymond Tempier (psychiatry)
    - Lynn Weber (veterinary biomedical sciences).

    For descriptions of their projects, see the Research Communications website:

  • Eight of nine U of S researchers who applied for NSERC grants were successful. This 88 per cent success rate outpaced the national average by 40 per cent. Funded projects include how to protect public spaces from bioterrorism, the potential of hemp and opium poppies for medicinal and industrial use, and creating sustainable ways to process oil sands. Recipients are:

    - Oon-Doo Baik (agriculture and bioresource engineering)
    - Ajay Dalai (chemical engineering)
    - Anh Dinh (electrical engineering)
    - Janusz Kozinski (engineering)
    - Alex Moewes (physics and engineering physics)
    - Jon Page (biology adjunct, NRC Plant Biotechnology Institute)
    - Hui Wang (chemical engineering)
    - Chris Zhang (mechanical engineering)

    For descriptions of their projects, see the Research Communications website.


Engineering Celebrates Interdisciplinary Research Success April 2nd

On April 2nd the College of Engineering will host a series of oral and poster presentations highlighting innovation through cross-disciplinary collaboration.

Researchers will share how they are re-growing nerves, cleaning oil sands waste, creating microscopic wireless devices, and preventing elderly injuries. Engineers will also demonstrate how leftover straw can be used as biofuel and bioethanol can act as a fuel cell.

Projects include:

  • Civil engineer Lee Barbour leads a team researching how to enhance moisture retention in soil disturbed by oil sands, as well as how to reclaim waste materials such as sulphur from the sands. The team's research results will help ensure sustainable boreal forest ecosystems are re-established following oil sands development.

  • Sven Achenbach, Canada Research Chair in Micro and Nano Device Fabrication, and electrical engineer David Klymyshyn use a new beamline at the Canadian Light Source Synchrotron to open new frontiers in nanoscience, including researching radio frequency micro components for tomorrow's wireless devices, biosensors in health care and industry automation.

Top researchers from the college will present research and findings from 12:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Agriculture 1E80. The research poster presentation will be in the Agriculture Atrium. Please RSVP if you would like to attend.


U of S Health Scientist Offers New Hope For Nerve Regeneration

U of S neuroscientist Valerie Verge has recently been in the media spotlight for her work on regrowing damaged nerve cells as part of a Western Canadian research team.

"Computer chips can interact with nerve cells and get them to grow," Verge said in an interview with The StarPhoenix. "It's already been done in a lab Petri dish."
Verge is part of the Western Canada Regeneration Initiative, an interdisciplinary group headed up by the University of Calgary's Dr. Doug Zochodne. The team has been awarded a $2.25-million grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to investigate developing a microchip device that can be implanted to encourage nerve fiber growth and reconnection. This could reduce pain and suffering for millions of people with peripheral nerve damage from injury or disease.

Dr. Rémi Quirion, Scientific Director at the CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction, says the team is doing amazing research. "They are merging the best of neuroscience with cutting-edge technology and engineering to explore novel virgin territories that could revolutionize treatments of spinal cord injures in future years," he said.

Verge's work, pitched to media by Research Communications, has garnered attention from CTV, CBC, Global, and The StarPhoenix. Click here For The StarPhoenix article.
For the full press release, visit:


New Non-Profit Company Formed on Campus to Fast- Track Vaccine Development


The U of S is home to a newly formed non-profit company: the Pan-Provincial Vaccine Enterprise Inc. (PREVENT) was incorporated February, 2008.

The first board meeting is expected to occur in early spring, with hiring of staff to follow. The new company will be housed within existing space at VIDO.

To accelerate early-stage vaccines through the development pipeline, the company’s board of directors will evaluate candidates by specific criteria including public health benefit, funding continued clinical development of the most promising candidates.

PREVENT's approach will reduce the risk that currently limits the commercial uptake of vaccine candidates, and strengthen the competitiveness of the Canadian vaccine industry.

Funded with $15 million from the Networks of Centres of Excellence program, PREVENT will accelerate the development of vaccines for humans and animals, with a focus on pathogens transmitted from animals to humans. An additional $10.5 million in in-kind support comes from three primary stakeholders: VIDO/InterVac, The Canadian Center for Vaccinology in Halifax, N.S., and the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC).

For more information:


Congress 2007 Final Report: "Eight Days at U of S That Engaged the Nation"

The highly successful Congress 2007, held last May 25th - June 3rd, raised the national profile of humanities and social science scholarship, highlighted U of S engagement with the local community, and brought the U of S community together in a way that has seldom happened in the institution's 100-year history.

"Much of the credit goes to the tireless efforts, for well over a year, of hundreds of faculty, staff, and students from across campus and the outstanding support from senior University leaders, our provincial and civic partners, and generous sponsors," states a final report that will aid other universities in planning future Congresses.

Co-hosted with the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, the eight-day national academic event drew more than 6,000 delegates (including 2,000 students and 380 international scholars), making it the largest conference ever held in Saskatoon. A record 368 people from the local community purchased day passes.

In addition to generous provincial support, more than $180,000 was raised in sponsorship -- an all-time record. The event generated more than $3.5 million in spin-off benefits to the local economy. Media coverage was unprecedented -- more than 14 million exposures in 170 newspaper and broadcast features across Canada, contributing to the University's rise in the 2007 Maclean's reputational rankings.

To read a summary report of the highlights, visit the Congress in Review site at


3rd Annual Library Dean’s Lecture Explores Future of Research Archives

Ian Wilson, the first Librarian and Archivist of Canada, will present an April 1st lecture entitled "To Hold Infinity," which will explore how libraries, archives, museums and the community at large can work together to redefine the nation's documentary heritage.

Wilson, a Member of the Order of Canada, was elected Fellow of the Society of American Archivists in 2003 and appointed Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Government of France. Through his 30-year career, he has worked to safeguard the integrity of archival records while encouraging public use.

The April 1st lecture will take place at 3:30 p.m. in Convocation Hall.


Research Ethics Office Consolidates and Educates

The Research Ethics Office (REO) is consolidating human and animal research ethics offices from across campus to create an efficient and cohesive ethics review process for the U of S.

"The consolidation of human and animal research ethics, in concert with our new education initiatives, will improve the ability of the U of S to do research that is ethically, medically, culturally and legally responsible in a rapidly changing environment," says REO Director Diane Martz.

The REO is working on initiatives to better educate researchers dealing with living subjects. Beginning in May 2008, there will be three web-based training modules available:

  • Introduction to Ethics and Integrity
  • Experimental Animal Care and Use Core Course
  • Tutorial on Tri-Council Policy Statement Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans.

Future modules will address farm animals in research, field studies using animals, and using fish in research.

The REO organizes workshops for graduate students, departments, and others interested in learning more about research ethics. For more information, or to invite an REO representative to make a presentation to your unit, visit:


Physics Presents an April 8th Symposium on Clean Energy Solutions

The department of physics and engineering physics will present a symposium called Science and Technology of Clean Energy Solutions on April 8th from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Room 107 Physics Bldg.

This free event will feature presentations on nuclear energy by Atomic Energy Canada (AECL) and on solar and wind energy by Suncatcher Solar Homes and Raum Energy. The event concludes with a discussion by industry and academic experts: "Where do we go from here?"

The agenda for this event is available at


New SK Public Policy School to Open This Fall

The University of Saskatchewan and University of Regina are now recruiting students for the recently co-founded Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, to open in the fall of 2008.

The interdisciplinary school will accept a maximum of 20 students into the Master of Public Administration program in its first year. Students can complete the program on a full-time (one-year) or part-time (multi-year) basis from either the U of S campus or U of R campus. In subsequent years, the school will offer a Master of Public Policy and a PhD in Public Policy.

Students will be prepared for careers as public managers or policy makers in government, industry, and the non-profit sector.

Political studies department head Peter Phillips is the school's acting director.
For more information, visit: or contact:


U of S to Host World Conference on Mental Health Planning

The U of S will host the 2008 World Psychiatric Association Epidemiology & Public Health Section Conference May 11th to 14th.

The gathering, brought to the university by Dr. Raymond Tempier, head of psychiatry in the College of Medicine, will draw 100 delegates from across Canada and around the world to discuss the conference's theme, "From Epidemiology Towards Mental Health Planning." Experts in a variety of disciplines including psychiatry, sociology, and psychology will speak to how social and physical realities affect mental health, and vice versa.

Professional sessions will discuss child and adolescent psychiatry, Aboriginal mental health, the rural/urban split in mental health care, and seniors' mental health. The conference committee is also accepting poster presentations from U of S students. There will be two sessions where student researchers explain and discuss findings with experts in their field.

For more information, contact or visit the conference homepage:


Symposium Addresses Shifting Trends in Drug Trials

The Saskatchewan Drug Research Institute (SDRI) will hold their annual Spring Clinical Trial Workshop and Symposium on Thurs., April 17th, and Fri., April 18th in the Candle/Span Rooms in the Atrium Building at Innovation Place.

Both the workshop and symposium will focus on the rapidly changing environment surrounding clinical trials. Speakers from professions across the health industry will address delegates on topics including how technology changes the nature of clinical trials, current global and industry trends, and the nuts and bolts of coordinating multi- site trials.

Participants may be eligible for continuing education credits from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada Maintenance of Certification Program, or the Society of Clinical Research Associates.

Registration deadline is April 7th. For more information, or to register, please visit the SDRI events page:


Ag-West Bio presents Improving Human Health II: Pre-diabetes Workshop

Ag-West Bio will present a workshop on metabolic syndrome, also known as pre-diabetes, April 24th to 25th at the Delta Bessborough Hotel.

Keynote speaker is nutritionist and TV personality Leslie Beck (Canada AM). 15 experts will highlight factors contributing to metabolic syndrome and different approaches and therapies available to manage this disease, such as natural health products, functional foods, exercise and portion control. As a bonus, join Jayne Clendening for a fun-filled session of laughter yoga.

For details about this workshop or to register, visit: workshop.htm


New Personnel Named to Two OVPR Positions

  • Cam Zimmer joins the U of S Research Communications Office as Research Communications Specialist. Cam, who is completing a master's of communications and technology, has worked for more than four years at Western Economic Diversification Canada as a communications officer and more recently as policy analyst. His journalism background includes reporting, editing and four years of freelance writing. Cam's skills will enhance the office's ability to tell the U of S research story to the world. Please forward research story ideas to him at or call 966-2427.
  • Roxanne Craig has joined the International Research Office as Administrative Coordinator Reporting to international research manager Anne Neufeld, Craig will assist with management of the daily operations of the office which aims to ensure the university community takes full advantage of major international funding initiatives. A U of S education graduate, Roxanne worked for many years as a community school coordinator, piloted a stay-in-school program, taught English Immersion in Mexico, and has taught Indo-Canadian students in Calgary. Most recently, she worked as an event coordinator and graphic/web designer.


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