Understanding immune cells and their link to allergies, and mapping the impacts of climate change in Canada’s north are two Brock University research projects that received funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan announced today (Aug. 15).
Researchers Adam MacNeil and Kevin Turner received a total of $311,821 from the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF), which enables leading researchers to purchase equipment for their work.
MacNeil, Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Sciences, studies how mast cells, which evolve from bone marrow stem cells, cause inflammation associated with allergies.
“We’re looking at the molecular and genetic changes that happen to bone marrow-derived stem cells to allow them to become mast cells,” explained MacNeil. “We’re interested in how those mast cells function, and whether or not we can find innovative strategies to target mast cells and block their ability to create allergic inflammation.”
With his JELF funding, MacNeil will purchase a cell sorting and analysis suite — a group of instruments that will allow him to suck out and isolate stem cells developing into mast cells for intense examination.
Turner, Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies, researches how climate change impacts are transforming the landscape of a lake-rich area of the Yukon called Old Crow Flats. He is mapping how carbon moves through the complex lake and river system as permafrost thaws.
With his JELF funding, Turner will obtain drones and GPS systems that he will use to create three-dimensional maps twice each season over several years. These maps will be used with sampled sediment, vegetation and water to document rates of landscape changes and associated influences on the carbon balance, as well as river and lake environments.
“It is important for us to continue development of innovative and integrated approaches to monitor landscape changes and impacts across vast northern regions,” Turner said. “Findings will improve predictions of how these important landscapes will respond to future climate change.”
The John R. Evans Leaders Fund is used by the CFI to help Canadian institutions attract and retain top researchers, by providing the infrastructure they need to remain or become leaders in their field.
Brock’s Interim Vice-President Research Joffre Mercier said it is gratifying for the University to receive funding that is earmarked for the country’s most significant research projects.
“This will enable two of our researchers to make significant contributions to Canada’s health care and environmental conservation efforts,” he said. “We’re all very proud of the exceptional research performed at Brock, and I look forward to seeing the results.”