UPEI Gains Two More Canada Research Chairs

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Internationally-Known Scientists Attract Close to $2 Million for Health and Environmental Research

The University of Prince Edward island has added two internationally-known scientists to its rapidly-growing pool of research talent in the Faculty of Science and at the Atlantic Veterinary College. Dr. Michael van den Heuvel and Dr. Cai Song have been named Tier 2 Canada Research Chairs. Their appointments were announced today by the Honourable David L. Emerson, Minister of Industry and minister responsible for the Canada Research Chairs (CRC) Program.

"Our universities are vital centres of cutting-edge research and innovation," said Minister Emerson. "The ideas generated at these institutions extend the frontiers of knowledge and create a deeper understanding of the complex world in which we live. Communities all over the country will see the benefits of the work done by the more than 1500 Chairholders who conduct research at Canadian universities."

Combined with infrastructure support from the Canadian Foundation of Innovation (CFI), the new funding to UPEI will add up to $1.25 million over the next five years. This federal support will be complemented by contributions of over $ 625,000 from provincial, regional, and national industry and agency partners.

"The Canada Research Chairs program is having a tremendous impact on the University of Prince Edward Island. Our Chairs are further enhancing UPEI's research capacity, and extending our reputation for research excellence. In a small university context, this program has facilitated drawing national and international research expertise to Prince Edward Island where our Chairs and their colleagues work to address the kinds of environmental, economic and health issues of fundamental importance to us all," said Dr. Katherine Schultz, Vice-President of Research and Development at UPEI.

Canada Research Chair Cai Song is an internationally-known researcher in the emerging field of psychoneuroimmunology, which is the study of how the immune and nervous systems affect mental health. Dr. Song and her research team are working to understand the causes of brain inflammation, which often leads to disturbances in thinking, memory, and behaviourand#151;all symptoms of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

"The great benefit of receiving a Canada Research Chair is that it will enable me to focus on devising effective treatments, with minimal side-effects, that can halt the progression of these diseases, and even prevent them from developing in the first place," she said.

Dr. Michael van den Heuvel is UPEI's incoming Canada Research Chair in Watershed Ecological Integrity. He is joining UPEI from the New Zealand Forest Research Institute to focus on the health of the freshwater and near-shore marine environments of PEI. His research will be based on the observation that animal populations respond in unique and predictable ways to changes in their environments. Through observing these biological responses in aquatic animals, scientists can better understand the causes of adverse changes to the environment. Dr. van den Heuvel's research will address questions about how to monitor environmental problems and develop effective solutions to ensure a sustainable future.

UPEI now has a total of five Canada Research Chairs. Dr. Alastair Cribb, Canada Research Chair in Comparative Pharmacology and Toxicology, is investigating the molecular factors that underpin adverse drug reactions, with an overarching goal to improve drug safety. Dr. Godfrey Baldacchino, Canada Research Chair in Island Studies, focuses on the comparative, trans-national, and critical study of islands. Dr. Franck Berthe, Canada Research Chair in Aquatic Health Sciences: Mollusc Health, explores the complex interactions among molluscs, pathogens, and their environments. His research works to support the development and sustainability of the mollusc fisheries and aquaculture industry in PEI, the Atlantic region, and around the world.


Anne McCallum
Media Relations and Communications