Research, innovation make people’s lives better
The B.C. Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF) has awarded more than $3.3 million to invest in research infrastructure for 11 projects at the University of British Columbia (UBC) – Vancouver campus.
The BCKDF shares project funding with other funding partners, including the Canadian Foundation for Innovation. These investments help to ensure UBC will have the state-of-the-art scientific equipment and infrastructure to be well-positioned to lead B.C. into the future.
Health and life sciences:
Infrastructure for laboratory simulations of interstellar chemistry
The BCKDF is providing $125,000 for research infrastructure to investigate the journey of molecules from their birth in the vacuum of space to their transport to new planets and other worlds. The lab will develop unique tools to simulate reactions in space. The measurements will have applications to the life cycle of molecules in our own atmosphere, including key pollutants that effect the health of British Columbians. The project will provide exceptional training for highly qualified personnel and will prepare them for careers in academia, industry and the space sector.
Researcher: Ilsa Cooke
RESearch in Physical activity and Exercise with, by, and for hard-to-reach CommuniTies (RESPECT) collaboratory
The BCKDF is providing $639,239 for infrastructure for research at the RESPECT Collaboratory, which will develop, evaluate and disseminate physical activity interventions with, by, and for hard-to-reach and equity-deserving populations. Short-term benefits include the co-creation of tailored and efficacious interventions for, among others, individuals seeking help for depression, women living with HIV and military veterans. The vision is to be the leading international research centre for physical activity and exercise interventions in hard-to-reach populations by 2030.
Research from the RESPECT Collaboratory will enhance the quality of life of equity-deserving groups in British Columbia.
Researcher: Guy Faulkner
Facility for the study of insect adaptability and physiology (FSIAP)
The BCKDF is providing $781,055 for the FSIASP. The facility is designed to help researchers better understand how insects respond to climate change, allowing them to predict, control and manage the effects of their spread, as well as study how changing temperature regimes impacts their metabolism and energy use, while looking for genetic signatures that predict whether some insects are more or less suited for specific climates. This data will be used to predict the future distributions of insects of concern within British Columbia and Canada, beginning with Aedes aegypti, a mosquito that can spread multiple viral diseases, and Choristoneura fumiferana, a moth that destroys vast tracts of forest.
Researcher: Philip Matthews
Endometriosis integrated pain laboratory
Endometriosis is a chronic disease affecting one in 10 people and is a common cause of infertility and pelvic pain including painful periods, sexual pain and chronic pain.
The BCKDF is providing $75,001 to invest in lab space for state-of-the-art sensory pain testing of the nervous system, which builds on existing lab space to lead to an endometriosis integrated pain laboratory. The expected outcomes are better precision care for endometriosis.
In the short-term, this research will raise B.C.’s profile as an international leader in endometriosis research, and in the long-term there will be cost savings to B.C.’s health-care system through prevention of unnecessary repeated surgeries for endometriosis.
Researcher: Paul Yong
Visualizing immune cell activities using live-cell imaging and confocal microscopy
The BCKDF is providing $140,000 for research infrastructure that will help understand how immune cells that ingest bacteria, viruses and foreign pathogens, actively contribute to normal development of a fetus. By studying these cells using advanced imaging technologies, researchers will be able to examine how maternal insults (e.g., periodontal infection) experienced during gestation alter these cells to result in developmental disorders. The knowledge gained from this research will have broad implications in maternal-fetal health and will benefit Canadians by supporting health-care professionals in their recommendations to pregnant people regarding the potential risks associated with specific actions during pregnancy.
Researcher: Jessica Rosin
Precision oncology for gynecologic cancers
Gynecologic cancer affects 1,600 British Columbians each year and the number of new cases is expected to rise by one-third over the next 15 years.
The BCKDF is providing $325,000 for an infrastructure project that will accelerate the discovery of new therapeutic targets for rare and difficult-to-treat gynecologic cancers and enable the development of tools that can determine a patient’s risk and help guide their treatment. The long-term goal of this project is to generate new knowledge that will improve health outcomes for British Columbians with gynecological cancer.
The infrastructure will also enable training of highly qualified personnel on the latest technologies in proteogenomics.
Researcher: Jessica McAlpine
Infrastructure for AI-integrated point-of-care ultrasound imaging for decentralized health care
The BCKDF is providing $158,055 to invest in infrastructure that will lead to the development of an AI-guided point of care ultrasound (POCUS) imaging platform. The system will provide remote, early-stage disease risk assessment of non-communicable diseases. In addition to training highly skilled trainees in AI, the project has the potential to decentralize patient care that will help reach under-served groups that are affected disproportionately of non-communicable diseases in B.C.
Researcher: Ilker Hacihaliloglu
Laboratory for the advanced study of dietary ecology of modern and ancient organisms
The BCKDF is providing $123,515 for laboratory equipment to build a state-of-the-art stable isotope facility for the advanced study of food webs in modern and ancient environments. The project will advance the understanding of diet and food web dynamics of modern wild and fossil animals. The research and the infrastructure built by this facility will be a critical resource for wildlife conservation and environmental monitoring of British Columbia’s natural environments, as well as attract world class researchers for collaboration and training.
Researcher: Kendra Chritz
Information and communication technologies and wireless:
Computational infrastructure for accelerating quantum technology
Quantum computers hold the power to solve numerous problems in materials science, chemistry and optimization that lie fundamentally out of reach for even the most advanced conventional computers.
The BCKDF is providing $800,000 to invest in the construction of a high-performance computing cluster to design the next generation of quantum algorithms and devices, expand a semiconductor-based quantum processor prototype being developed at the University of British Columbia, and integrate these technologies to make a unique quantum-accelerated supercomputer.
This system will cement B.C. and Canada’s role as a world-leader for quantum computing research, and foster training of highly qualified personnel for a future quantum workforce.
Researcher: Andrew Potter
Integrated Climate Change and Aquaculture System (ICCAS) for multi-stressor experiments on commercial juvenile fish
Climate change and food security are two of the greatest challenges the world is facing today.
The BCKDF is providing $125,000 to invest in infrastructure for the ICCAS, an innovative experimental facility to conduct multi-stressor climate change experiments on the early and most-vulnerable life stages of freshwater and marine fish. The system will be used to determine species and life-stage-specific sensitivity thresholds of commercial species to heat stress, hypoxia and acidification, in order to improve fisheries management and sustainable aquaculture practices in B.C.
Researcher: Andrea Frommel
Infrastructure for the field-based investigation of the impacts of climate change on sedimentary systems
The BCKDF is providing $91,554 for the project, which examines the impacts of climate change on landscapes in B.C., including rivers, erosion, sediment deposition and environmental change, as well as the impact to B.C.’s transport network and industries, such as mining, forestry and energy. The project focuses on understanding and preparing for the impacts of climate change.
Researcher: Mitch D’Arcy