CFI awards York researchers more than $950,000

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) has awarded York University $952,531 in infrastructure funding to support the research of six York professors.

Joseph DeSouza, a professor in the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health, will receive $141,764 to examine direct links between neurological disorders and attention. One in four Canadians will suffer from a psychiatric or neurological disorder in their lifetime. DeSouza’s research will examine how space perception is coded in the brain and how attention directs or suppresses our actions to external or peripersonal space. Since deficits in these attentional processes are often observed in conditions like stroke, Tourette's and problem gambling, an understanding of the brain mechanisms involved will emerge from the directed study of patient populations.

Eric Hessels, distinguished research professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, Faculty of Science & Engineering, will receive $199,861 for two major research projects, both high precision atomic measurements. Both projects will measure fundamental constants of nature, with the first determining the size of the proton, and the second determining the value of the fine-structure constant – the fundamental constant of physics which determines the strength of all electromagnetic interactions.

Rebecca Pillai Riddell, a professor in the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health, will receive $175,259 to support her research on how primary caregivers support their young children during distressing times. Watching children suffer through getting a needle is something every parent dreads. Researchers at York University suspect that how parents soothe their kids after needles and how quickly kids recover from this distress are actually linked to other important child outcomes such as early school success. CFI funding is now helping her team explore these relationships and help parents help their children manage pain and distress to improve outcomes later in life.

Anthony Scimè, a professor in the School of Kinesiology & Health Science, Faculty of Health, will receive $135,889  to better understand the Metabolic Syndrome and how it might be prevented by stem cell therapy. The Metabolic Syndrome is a group of risk factors, most notably obesity, that contribute to chronic diseases, such as diabetes. The syndrome represents a significant Canadian health care problem that is aggravated by an increasingly sedentary and aging population.

Robert Tsushima, a professor in the Department of Biology, Faculty of Science & Engineering, will receive $140,288 in funding for an ultrasound imaging system and anesthesia system to study the mechanisms associated with the development of heart disease. The equipment will be used to examine how specific proteins regulate the mechanical and electrical function of the heart, and will allow Tsushima to study how these proteins are involved in the progression of heart disease. His studies will lead hopefully to new therapeutic strategies to alleviate the high death rate and sickness associated with heart disease.

Leah Vosko, professor and Canada Research Chair in the Political Economy of Gender & Work in the Department of Political Science, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, will receive $159,470 to establish essential infrastructure and the acquisition of data to support the development of a Global Employment Standards Database (GESD). This database will be a unique research tool in the field of work and labour. The GESD development team aims to improve how researchers, policy-makers, workers, employers, and the public understand employment standards, especially their enforcement, and their impacts on labour market insecurity by devising new approaches to their conceptualization and measurement in comparative context.

“These projects demonstrate York’s strengths in research across a broad range of disciplines,” said Robert Haché, vice-president research & innovation. “CFI’s investments in state-of-the-art infrastructure at York will support the exceptional work of our leading researchers.”

York’s projects were part of a $33 million investment, which provides Canadian researchers with the necessary tools to carry out a range of frontier research. The funding supports 132 research projects in 31 communities across Canada.

Gary Goodyear, federal minister of state for science and technology, made the announcement Tuesday.

“Our government is investing in science and technology to improve the quality of life of Canadians and strengthen the economy,” said Goodyear.  “Investments in research and development are ensuring that our scientists have the resources they need to be successful.”

“Canadians from coast to coast to coast can be assured that Canada’s research community is bringing its talents to bear on the problems that matter to them,” said Gilles G. Patry, CFI president and chief executive officer. “This round of investment illustrates the value of research and innovation in building stronger, healthier and more prosperous communities.”

A complete list of CFI recipients is available on the CFI website.