University of Saskatchewan

September 15, 2014   

Federal Government Invests $1.5 M in U of S Research Excellence

Above: Saskatoon MP Kelly Block announces funding (left to right, Block, Sylvia Abonyi, Lisa Kalynchuk, Sven Achenbach)

Below: CRC Sven Achenbach and MP Kelly Block during tour of CLS SyLMAND beamline and clean room facility
March 29, 2010

For Immediate release – March 29/2010

A $1.5-million federal investment in the renewal of three Canada Research Chairs at the University of Saskatchewan will help foster healthy northern communities, better treatments for depression, and next-generation biosensors for improved detection of disease.

“This renewed investment to 2015 represents a strong vote of confidence in the achievements and research impact of these three outstanding U of S Canada Research Chairs,” said Karen Chad, U of S Vice-President of Research.

“These research chairs build on areas of U of S research strength in Aboriginal health, synchrotron sciences and neuroscience, paving the way for new solutions to pressing societal challenges, while creating more training opportunities for graduate students and other research personnel.”

Kelly Block, MP for Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar, made the funding announcement on behalf of the federal government at a campus event on March 26.

The three renewed chairholders are:

  • Sylvia Abonyi, CRC in Aboriginal Health

    The two questions that drive her research are: “What is a health community? How would we measure that?” Working closely with northern Aboriginal communities out of her population health research lab in Prince Albert, Abonyi’s team has developed a toolkit that identifies more than 200 indicators of community health and wellness that are important to these communities—including strong and vital community cultures, food security, a healthy environment, and access to health and social services. More than 25 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities across Canada are using the toolkit.

    Over the next five years, her team will implement the toolkit with the Athabasca Health Authority in northern Saskatchewan, building a community database of information and creating ways of evaluating programs and policies. In addition to training graduate students, Abonyi has hired and trained 24 community research assistants in Aboriginal communities in the use of the toolkit. She sees this evidence-based approach to health policy as an important part of self-determination and control for Aboriginal populations.

    A short video of Abonyi’s work can be viewed at:

  • Lisa Kalynchuk, CRC in Behavioural Neuroscience

    Her team is studying the biological causes of mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety—disorders that have a high prevalence rate (about 20 per cent of Canadians). Many patients do not respond to current drug treatment or experience serious side effects. Her team hopes to develop new drug treatments that will benefit a larger proportion of patients and cause fewer side effects.

    Her lab is also trying to develop diagnostic kits for mental health disorders such as depression so that like other human diseases (i.e., cardiovascular, diabetes, some cancer), patients can be diagnosed and treated based on the results of a blood test, rather than the old way of interviewing patients and making a subjective decision about whether or not they are clinically depressed.

  • Sven Achenbach, CRC in Micro and Nano Device Fabrication

    Achenbach and his team have designed and built SyLMAND, Canada’s first X-ray lithography facility at the Canadian Light Source on the U of S campus. The team uses X-ray beams to embed patterns in plastics and metals on a micro or nano-scale (a nanometer is one-billionth of a metre).This leading-edge technology has many research and industrial applications, especially new high-frequency wireless communication devices such as next-generation cell phones.

    Medical applications include developing nano-scale sensors for biomolecules, potentially including diseased cells, an application that could result in a device the size of a thimble that helps detect “Mad Cow disease’ – or BSE – in cows. Another tiny device has potential to treat certain eye diseases by developing a way to relieve pressure in the eye.

In the 10 years since the inception of the CRC program, the U of S has received a total of more than $38.3 million in CRC funding. This investment has leveraged another $4.36 million in associated CFI funding and $12.54 million in provincial matching and operational funding.

The U of S currently has 25 CRCs. The program aims to attract and retain leading researchers from around the world. More information is available at:


For more information, contact:

Kathryn Warden
U of S Research Communications
(306) 966-2506

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