New CRCs focus on human health

New CRCs focus on human health

Five new Canada Research Chairs (CRC) are joining UBC Science, with foci that span gene therapies, air pollution policy, natural product derivatives, applying new computational approaches to the experimental sciences, and microbiota health. Three Chairs within the Faculty have also been renewed.

"Researchers strive to contribute to building a better, healthier and more diverse society," said Ted Hewitt, Chair of Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat Steering Committee in making the announcement. "The Canada Research Chairs Program is essential in this quest as it supports innovators, forward-thinkers and creators across the country as they work tirelessly to shape a brighter future for Canadians. Congratulations to the new and renewed Canada Research Chairs in this cycle. We are eagerly waiting to follow your research journeys."

The appointments are part of 19 new or renewed Chairs at UBC announced today by the federal government.

Five new CRCs join UBC Science

Developing the next generation of gene therapies

Appointed with UBC’s Michael Smith Labs and the School of Biomedical Engineering, Dr. Anna Blakney has been named the new CRC in nucleic acid bioengineering. Her lab investigates how RNA and biomaterials—the components of gene delivery formulations—interact with the immune system in order to improve potency and enable clinical translation.

Modelling for improved air pollution policy

The new CRC in environmental modelling for policy, Dr. Amanda Giang works at the interface of environmental modelling and policy through an interdisciplinary lens, with a focus on air pollution and toxics. Appointed to the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, and Mechanical Engineering, her lab investigates how simulation, statistical and qualitative methods can better assess the environmental and health impacts of technology and policy.

New computational approaches to experimental sciences

Dr. Anotida Madzvamuse’s work with UBC Mathematics proposes, develops and simulates new computational approaches applied to experimental sciences. As the new CRC in theoretical and computational biology, his research lies at the interface of mathematics, physics and scientific computing and a range of experimental sciences (developmental biology, biochemistry, cell biology, biomedicine, plant biology). Dr. Madzvamuse’s projects include a collaboration with UK health authorities in Covid-19 modelling.

Generating natural product derivatives

Appointed the new CRC in biosynthetic enzymes, Dr. Katherine Ryan’s research focuses on understanding how natural products are made, including those with applications as antibacterial agents and anti-cancer drugs. Her lab in UBC Chemistry works to isolate new biosynthetic pathways from microbes, to engineer enzymes that catalyze new reactions, and to generate natural product derivatives through combinatorial engineering and chemo-enzymatic synthesis.

Understanding the microbiota and inflammatory disease

Dr. Carolina Tropini’s research team examines the roles and complex interactions of microbial communities to better understand how the microbes within us affect our health. Appointed with UBC Microbiology and Immunology and the School of Biomedical Engineering, she is the new CRC in quantitative microbiota biology for health applications. Her work has implications for a range of conditions, from Alzheimer’s and depression to rheumatoid arthritis.

Renewed CRCs

In addition to the five new Chairs joining UBC Science, three CRCs have been renewed:

  • Dr. William Cheung (Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries), CRC in ocean sustainability and global change
  • Dr. Raymond Ng (Computer Science, Data Science Institute,) CRC in data science and analytics
  • Dr. Ziliang Ye (Physics and Astronomy), CRC in two-dimensional quantum materials

Learn more about all the CRCs currently working at UBC Science.

Chris Balma
c 604-202-5047