Honourable Gail Shea announces renewal of two Canada Research Chairs

UPEI President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Alaa Abd-El-Aziz; Dr. Russell Kerr, Canada Research Chair in Marine Natural Products; the Honourable Gail Shea, Canada's Minister for Fisheries and Oceans; Dr. Javier Sanchez accepting on behalf of Dr. Crawford Revie, Canada Research Chair in Population Health: Epi-informatics; and Dr. Robert Gilmour, UPEI's Vice-President Research and Graduate Studies.
These are two exciting and outstanding researchers who demonstrate the community of discovery and innovation we foster at UPEI. Their research has a very real impact on the world, and gives our students and post-doctoral fellows access to word-class expertise and instruction
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Posted on Thursday, 23 January 2014

The Honourable Gail Shea, Canada’s Minister for Fisheries and Oceans, on behalf of the Honourable Greg Rickford, Minister of State (Science and Technology) announced today the renewal of two Canada Research Chairs at the University of Prince Edward Island. Dr. Russell Kerr begins a second term as the Canada Research Chair in Marine Natural Products. The announcement also saw Dr. Crawford Revie renewed as the Canada Research Chair in Population Health: Epi-informatics.

“Our government remains committed to attracting and retaining the world’s best researchers, creating jobs and strengthening Canada’s economy,” said Minister Shea. “Through programs such as the Canada Research Chairs, we are supporting cutting-edge research at Canadian universities and fostering innovation by helping researchers bring their ideas to the marketplace, benefiting Canadians and improving their quality of life.”

Dr. Russell Kerr’s research takes him from the tropics to the arctic in search of marine compounds with potential as therapeutic agents. The demand for such compounds from the ocean environment is tempered by a limited and delicate supply. Dr. Kerr seeks new ways to discover and extract these compounds without damaging the environment. Dr. Kerr first came to UPEI in 2006 from Florida Atlantic University as the Canada Research Chair in Marine Natural Products (Tier 1).

“The renewal of the CRC funding is exciting as this will allow my research group to continue its work directed at the development of marine microbes as a sustainable resource for drug discovery. The research will be directed at the discovery of antimicrobial agents as well as anticancer drug leads,” said Dr. Kerr. “Importantly, this will also allow for the training of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in the field of marine drug discovery.”

As Canada Research Chair in Population Health: Epi-Informatics (Tier 2), Dr. Crawford Revie is exploring new ways to use techniques from informatics—such as data mining, data-driven modelling and semantic web technologies—to gain a better understanding of disease epidemiology. Dr. Revie’s work focuses specifically on the transmission of pathogens between wild and farmed fish, and it has been instrumental in bringing together industry, government, and non-government organizations in British Columbia.

“While the renewal of my own position is very gratifying, I am even more pleased that this greatly strengthens the broader epi-informatics team that has been built up over the initial phase of this Chair,” said Dr. Revie. “There are many research goals we aim to fulfill during this second phase, including the creation of Web 2.0 ontology tools for syndromic surveillance data consolidation and the delivery of mobile-phone based tools for disease diagnosis and surveillance in sub-Saharan Africa.”

“UPEI is extremely proud to have Dr. Kerr and Dr. Revie renewed in these roles,” said UPEI President and Vice-Chancellor Alaa Abd-El Aziz. “These are two exciting and outstanding researchers who demonstrate the community of discovery and innovation we foster at UPEI. Their research has a very real impact on the world, and gives our students and post-doctoral fellows access to word-class expertise and instruction.”

The Government of Canada will provide $108.9 million through the Canada Research Chairs Program, to support 135 newly awarded and renewed Canada Research Chairs. Of that total, 26 researchers have been recruited from abroad, including 11 Canadians returning to work in their home country—demonstrating the success of the program in attracting and supporting research excellence and innovation in Canada. The research will be conducted at 41 Canadian post-secondary institutions, and will lead to benefits for Canadian families, businesses, practitioners, and policy-makers.

The Canada Research Chairs Program was created with an annual budget of $300 million to establish up to 2,000 research professorships across the country and to position Canada as a world leader in post-secondary research. The program currently supports researchers, in more than 70 Canadian post-secondary institutions, who are conducting research in natural sciences and engineering, health sciences, and social sciences and humanities disciplines.