McMaster’s latest endowment: A look at how Mac is using their research funds McMaster University secures $1.37 million in research funding to support innovative projects

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As yet another convincing testament for the institution’s prowess in research, seven McMaster investigators have been awarded a total of $1.37 million in funding from the Canada Foundation For Innovation.

The $1.37 million was supplied from the CFI’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund, a fund designed as a critical strategic investment tool to help institutions elevate promising researchers. The awards were announced in late February by the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science.

The seven projects arise from different streams of research ranging from digital economy to breast cancer diagnostics. The merit-based support from JELF for these projects may be attributed to the university’s long-term stance on proliferating many diverse research areas.

“Expanding our infrastructure capacity on such a broad range of initiatives will allow our researchers, from across the disciplines, to contribute to the health, economic and social well-being of Canadians,” said Rob Baker, McMaster’s vice president (Research) in a press release.

Baker has recently furthered his plans to enhance McMaster’s status as a research leader last week in a meeting with the Board of Governors.

In particular, he presented a novel strategic plan to be developed in collaboration with faculties. The aim is to identify and provide equitable support for the aspects of research that require it the most.

Moreover, he assured the university of his intentions to improve logistical support for major funding programs by working with the deans, the provost and the president to prepare detailed institutional packages for the application process.

The demand for financial support in research is complemented by the tangible example of how the JELF is benefiting Prof. Yu Lu at the Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute.

As one of the seven recipients of the $1.37 million in total funding, Lu received $400,000 towards his project “Investigating Alternative Splicing Regulation in Stem Cell Differentiation”.

Seven McMaster investigators have been awarded a total of $1.37 million in funding from the Canada Foundation For Innovation.

Lu is exploring stem cells and the great potential they hold for cell therapies. Once triggered with the right conditions, stem cells can quickly change their identities into downstream cell types. Protein mechanisms serve as one possible way for this change, and the use of technology to discover these underlining mechanisms is the basis for Prof. Yu Lu’s research.

While $400,000 seems at first glance to be hefty sum, the rationale behind it is not difficult to understand.

“For my work, [advanced equipment] including an ultra-performance liquid chromatography system, a high-resolution high-accuracy high-speed tandem mass spectrometer, and proteomic software are needed,” said Lu.

The equipment listed above are principle components for identifying, characterizing and quantifying proteins from cells. This would lend support for Prof. Lu’s research in uncovering key proteins that play a role in stem cell differentiation.

“At McMaster, there is no instrumentation that suits our need. While there are facilities in Toronto and further away in Ontario and throughout the country, the cost to use facility services will be prohibitive for this research program over the long run. And before the funding of this CFI-JELF grant, there was no funding available to purchase the proteomics platform.”

Following the generous funding from CFI-JELF, the possibilities for Lu’s research have dramatically increased. By overcoming the financial costs in purchasing and setting up the high-end equipment for his lab, he has been given the chance to take the next step in leading research in his field.

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