CFI supports innovative translational research

An announcement made today at Western University will mean longer-term stable funding of equipment for innovative research across Canada through the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

Kirsty Duncan, Federal Minister of Science and Sport, announced a boost in funding for CFI of $763 million over the next five years, and $462 million per year starting in 2023-24.

“The Canada Foundation for Innovation has endured Canadian researchers have the tools they need to push the frontiers of knowledge in all disciplines,” said Duncan in a statement.

Today’s announcement also included the awarding of successful grants through CFI’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund. Five projects at Western were funded through this latest round, including two at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. Grace Parraga, PhD, professor in Medical Biophysics and scientist at Robarts Research Institute received funding for lung imaging research that will transform patient outcomes in her lab at Robarts. The funds will also support signalling and drug discovery work targeting G-Protein coupled receptors by Rithwik Ramachandran, PhD, assistant professor in Physiology and Pharmacology.

These grants help researchers at universities across the country by giving them the tools and equipment they need to become leaders in their field.

“We applaud the Government of Canada for its continued investments in the CFI and leading research. We also congratulate our Western colleagues whose research will directly benefit from this new investment,” said Amit Chakma, President and Vice-Chancellor at Western.

For Parraga, the CFI funding will allow her and her team to discover and develop MRI biomarkers of asthma and COPD using inhaled Xenon gas and translate those findings to clinical use. The grant provides funding for the purchase of an MRI radiofrequency coil and airway analysis workstation.

"The new infrastructure will accelerate my lab’s ability to advance knowledge that is relevant to patients who suffer from lung disease including COPD, asthma and those who smoke cannabis and we expect this new research will improve health outcomes and generate cost-savings,” said Parraga.

Ramachandran’s research focuses on G-Protein Coupled Receptor signalling (GPCRs), and its role in health and disease. “In my laboratory, we study a family of GPCRs that we believe could be targets for a new generation of drugs to treat patients at risk of heart disease and stroke,” he said.

The new funding will enable his lab to purchase a suite of equipment that can monitor receptor signalling in great detail and examine the effect of the receptor’s function in real-time in live animals.