Feb. 28, 2019

Funds injected to support cross-cutting research strengths

University commits $500k to help interdisciplinary research teams gain momentum
Susa Benseler, director of the Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute, with a young patient.

To deliver on Goal 1.2 in the 2018-23 Research Plan, the vice-president (research) called on faculty members to bring forward bold proposals for emerging cross-cutting research themes.

“We created a very successful model with the Strategic Research Themes in 2012,” says André Buret, interim vice-president (research). “Those themes have become our institutional research priorities, and the work our scholars do in those areas have had a tremendous impact on the world. But as our capacity and strengths expand, so should our priority areas.”

Six interdisciplinary teams of thought leaders were short-listed to present their ideas to their peers, to discuss which teams represented the areas of greatest strength with the greatest potential for impact. Two teams were selected to receive an injection of funding to develop a program that will be considered to become a new cross-cutting research priority aimed at tackling significant global challenges.

“This competition is designed to be an ‘on-ramp’ for teams that have the bench strength to grow into a national or international leader in their area,” says Dr. Buret, PhD. “This means that we are investing in these teams to build momentum — they can call upon the confederation of scholars to develop interdisciplinary collaborations, identify ways research can address trends and opportunities based on global challenges, start to build partnerships with industry and community — and be ready to go at full-speed with a strategy and implementation plan.”

Two teams were selected to receive an initial grant of $200,000 each to develop their program:

One Health

One Health is an approach founded on understanding the interdependence between human, animal, and environmental health, including economic and social dynamics. With growing support from national and international funding agencies to develop team-based approaches to resolve emerging health issues at the interface of animals, humans, and their shared environment, the One Health approach can improve sustainability of impact, increase cost-effectiveness, and enhance ability to mitigate unintended consequences.

UCalgary has many established strengths that will contribute to One Health, including the International Microbiome Centre (IMC), Advancing Canadian Wastewater Assets (ACWA), the O’Brien Institute for Public Health, W.A. Ranches, along with intensive collaboration of co-located veterinary and human health researchers and economic modelling and policy development expertise.

“There are many ‘wicked’ problems — such as HIV/AIDS, Ebola, food and water/wastewater safety, antimicrobial resistance — that require a One Health approach to solve,” says Dr. Herman Barkema, DVM, PhD, professor in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and the Cumming School of Medicine. “UCalgary is in a fantastic position to become a leader in One Health research and education.”

The One Health team will create an Office of One Health, which will function as the hub for One Health research and education at UCalgary, and the catalyst to build a cadre of One Health leaders to create and sustain interdisciplinary research that will contribute significantly to resolving complex global issues. One Health will create education pathways that eliminate disciplinary silos and that integrate knowledge, including Indigenous knowledge.

One Health thought leader representatives:

  • Herman W. Barkema (NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Infectious Diseases of Dairy Cattle and professor, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Cumming School of Medicine)
  • Dr. Jennifer Hatfield, PhD (associate dean, Strategic Partnerships and Community Engagement, Cumming School of Medicine) 
    Aidan Hollis, PhD (professor, Faculty of Arts)
  • Dr. Leland Jackson, PhD (professor, Faculty of Science)
  • Dr. Lorian Hardcastle, PhD (assistant professor, Faculty of Law)
  • Dr. John M. Conly, PhD (professor, Cumming School of Medicine)
  • Dr. Baljit Singh, PhD (dean, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine)

One Health is an approach recognized by the World Health Organization and other international bodies

Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

Child Health and Wellness

Child Health and Wellness is an initiative to continue to build engaging partnerships and connections between researchers, children and their families, health-care providers, community organizations, policy-makers, and industry. The initiative will further enable novel, interdisciplinary discovery-based research and mechanisms to translate new knowledge into innovative programs, practices, policies, and technology.

“Optimal child health creates the foundation for lifelong individual health and societal success. Child health and well-being include physical, cognitive, emotional, social and spiritual domains. The earlier the investments in children’s and family’s health and wellness, the greater the outcome,” says Dr. Susa Benseler, MD, PhD, director of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute and professor in the Cumming School of Medicine. “Our objective is to develop and implement a transformative partnership and framework that will empower interdisciplinary research teams to address child health challenges at all scales. We are beyond thrilled and grateful for the institutional support for the Child Health and Wellness initiative.”

Child Health and Wellness will embrace and foster the strength, diversity, and passion of stakeholders, with children and families at the center of this unique approach to partnerships.

Child Health and Wellness thought leader representatives:

  • Susa Benseler (director, Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute and professor, Cumming School of Medicine)
  • Dr. Karen Benzies, PhD (associate dean research, Faculty of Nursing and professor, Cumming School of Medicine)
  • Dr. Raylene Reimer, PhD (associate dean research, Faculty of Kinesiology and professor, Cumming School of Medicine)
  • Dr. Shelley Russell-Mayhew, PhD (professor, Werklund School of Education)
  • Dr. Suzanne Tough, PhD (professor, Cumming School of Medicine)
  • Dr. Keith Yeates, PhD (professor, Faculty of Arts, Department of Psychology)

Both teams will have the opportunity to receive additional investment from the University of Calgary as they develop their strategies.

Four teams received a grant from the Office of the Vice-President (Research) of $25,000 each to continue to develop their initiatives: 
Aerospace and Autonomous Systems

  • Dr. Craig Johansen, PhD (Schulich School of Engineering)
  • Dr. Naser El-Sheimy, PhD (Schulich School of Engineering)
  • Dr. Marina Gavrilova, PhD (Faculty of Science)
  • Dr. Alex Ramirez-Serrano, PhD (Schulich School of Engineering)
  • Dr. Robert Schulz, PhD (Haskayne School of Business)

 Digital Innovations

  • Dr. Eric Donovan, PhD (associate dean research, Faculty of Science)
  • Dr. Frank Maurer, PhD (associate dean innovation and strategic partnerships, Faculty of Science)
  • Dr. Gopal Achari, PhD (associate dean research, Schulich School of Engineering)

 Environmental Hazards to the Health of Tomorrow

  • Dr. Aaron Goodarzi, PhD (Canada Research Chair in Radiation Exposure Disease and professor, Cumming School of Medicine)
  • Dr. Cathryn Ryan, PhD (professor, Faculty of Science)
  • Dr. Joshua Taron, PhD (associate dean research and Innovation, Faculty of Environmental Design)
  • Dr. Susana Kimura-Hara, PhD (assistant professor, Faculty of Science)
  • Dr. Linda Carlson, PhD (professor, Faculty of Arts)
  • Dr. Darren Brenner, PhD (assistant professor, Cumming School of Medicine)
  • Dr. Michael Wieser, PhD (associate professor, Faculty of Science)

 Printed Electronics for Energy, Environment, and Health

  • Dr. Yujun Shi, PhD (professor, Faculty of Science)
  • Dr. Kunal Kuran, PhD (professor, Schulich School of Engineering)
  • Dr. Reed Ferber, PhD (professor, Faculty of Kinesiology)
  • Dr. Majid Pahlevani, PhD (assistant professor, Schulich School of Engineering)
  • Dr. Gregory Welch, PhD (Canada Research Chair in Solar Energy Materials and Devices and assistant professor, Faculty of Science)

The 2018-23 Academic and Research Plans are the roadmaps to the Eyes High Strategy 2017-22. They will drive discovery, creativity and innovation across our campuses and within our community. These plans outline the priorities, strategies and goals that will help the University of Calgary be recognized as one of Canada’s top five research universities.

Learn more about research by these thought leaders and many more.