McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Four health sciences researchers receive funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation

Published: December 16, 2009
Christopher Fusch
Dr. Christopher Fusch, a professor in the Department of Pediatrics and head of the Neonatology Division

Improving neonatal health outcomes, overcoming antibiotic resistance and furthering  understanding of how diabetes affects muscle structure and function are a few of the research projects at McMaster University to receive a total of $1.9 million in infrastructure support from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

A total of nine projects — including four within the Faculty of Health Sciences — will benefit from the federal funding for high-performance equipment, specialized instruments and materials for lab renovations. But beyond bricks and mortar improvements, the investment also ensures these projects have the potential to impact the health of millions of Canadians, save billions in health-care costs and advance technologies that will benefit the economy.

Dr. Christopher Fusch, a professor in the Department of Pediatrics and head of the Neonatology Division at McMaster University, received a CFI award of $396,900. The funding will be used toward the purchase two high-end mass spectrometers, which are powerful tools for analyzing metabolism and pathways of substances in the body. The equipment will be of particular importance in creating new knowledge of nutritional needs of babies born prematurely.

Today, more than 90 per cent of babies with a birth weight under 1,500 grams and a fetal gestation of at least 24 weeks survive, but not all are free of impairments.

"Neonatal research must focus on improving quality of life," said Fusch, who holds the endowed Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation/Jack Sinclair Chair in Neonatology.  "One goal for us is to improve functioning by better understanding the metabolic pattern of a baby after birth. Through better nutrition, we can optimize growth and improve lung and brain function."

Other researchers in the Faculty of Health Sciences receiving infrastructure awards through the Leaders Opportunity Fund include:

  • Dawn Bowdish, an assistant professor of the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, has been awarded $130,470 for her project, Drug development in a post-antibiotic world, which will fill a vital gap in the drug discovery pipeline to reverse antibiotic resistance. Capitalizing on the strengths of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research and the Centre for Gene Therapeutics, this project will expand the capacity of current tissue culture facilities.
  • Thomas Hawke, an associate professor of the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, will use his $249,400 award for equipment that will enable him to address a major gap in the knowledge about how diabetes affects muscle structure and function, with a particular emphasis on child and adolescent diabetic populations. His research will help develop appropriate and successful long-term therapeutic strategies to improve life expectancy, quality of life and reduce overall healthcare costs.
  • The critical research tools requested by biochemist Nathan Magarvey total $248,575 and will be used to establish a metabolomic suite that will be used for bioactive compound discovery. An investigator of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, Magarvey has a research program targeted to develop next-generation antibiotics that will lead to new strategies to treat multi-drug resistant pathogens — organisms of grave concern for the Canadian health-care system.
Other McMaster University researchers awarded funding include: Medical radiation physicist Michael Farquharson; Michael Noseworthy, an assistant professor in the Department of Radiology; physicist Maikel Rheinstädter; psychologist Judith Shedden in collaboration with colleague Scott Watter and computing and software chair Martin von Mohrenschildt; and Gregory Wohl, an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.
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