Innovation foundation gives award to Brock for plant research

Vince De Luca

Vincenzo De Luca

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) has granted an award to a Brock University research team to develop processes for production of commercially useful new bioactive molecules that include therapeutic drugs.

Biologist Vincenzo De Luca heads the six-member team of biologists and chemists. The CFI-funded research will be conducted in the areas of biotechnology, genomics, “green chemistry,” biotransformation, biocatalysis, human metabolism, and plant disease resistance.

“We expect that these combined skills sets and CFI infrastructure will greatly enhance our collaborative effort in the rapid discovery and production of relevant small molecules. The consequences of these discoveries will improve our ability to develop novel cures and processes using environmentally benign technologies.”

The funding will assist researchers in the team’s three main themes of interrelated research: bioactives and drug testing; green chemistry; and plant and microbial engineering.

Bioactive molecules trigger specific physiological reactions in living organisms.

De Luca, who is a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in plant biology, says that the team’s research results can expand far beyond the production of medicines. For example, he says, the new methods of synthesis and metabolic engineering may be applied for the manufacturing of base materials in the petrochemical industry.

In granting the $948,774 award, the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) said committee members were “very enthusiastic” about Brock’s “strong and solid proposal.”

“Research and innovation is a forceful driver of growth in our communities,” says Gilles G. Patry, president and CEO of the Canada Foundation for Innovation. “Today’s funding will allow a talented group of researchers and students to create the solutions, products and ideas Canada needs to prosper.”

The Ottawa-based CFI is a non-profit foundation created by the Canadian government to build the country’s capacity to undertake world-class research and technology development that benefits Canadians and the global community.

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