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Sci-fi writer Robert Sawyer imagines the future of Canadian science

Award-winning author Robert Sawyer dreamed of a career in science, but was discouraged by the state of Canadian research in the 1970s. So he decided to write science fiction instead. These days, he often sets his novels in Canada’s remarkable research labs, including the Canadian Light Source (where he was writer-in-residence) and SNOLAB (where part of his Hugo Award-winning novel Hominids is set). Speaking to a room full of researchers at a workshop for the country’s national research...


Keeping antibiotics ahead of infectious diseases

Antibiotic resistance is an increasingly serious problem - threatening to alter modern medicine as we know it. It's an area of research that has captured Gerry Wright's attention for over two decades. As the director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research at McMaster University, Wright and his team have made some exciting progress in identifying where resistant genes come from and how to beat them.


De meilleures molécules pour une meilleure médecine

Les traitements contre le cancer comme la chimiothérapie comportent des lacunes. Les médicaments censés tuer les cellules cancéreuses ne sont pas sélectifs et s’attaquent du même coup aux cellules saines, ce qui peut entrainer d’importants effets secondaires pour les patients. Et si les cellules cancéreuses acquièrent une résistance, les traitements ne peuvent dans certains cas assurer une rémission complète. Le développement de nouvelles molécules qui intègrent le pouvoir thérapeutique...


Better molecules for better medicine

Cancer treatments like chemotherapy aren’t perfect. The drugs meant to kill cancerous cells aren’t choosy, so they take out healthy cells too, which can mean serious side-effects for the patient. And if cancer cells develop a resistance, the therapies might not result in a complete remission. Engineering new molecules that incorporate the power of metals to destroy disease-causing cells could not only lead to more effective cancer treatments, but also better defences against another...


Tiny fly, deadly bite

Raising sandflies is tricky, but with the help of Chukwunonso Nzelu’s expertise, researchers have grown a large, thriving colony of the insects at the University of Calgary’s high-level containment insectarium. It’s a critical resource for studying how the flies transmit Leishmaniasis to humans, with the goal of producing a vaccine against the disease which kills 30 000 people a year. What they learn could also inform the prevention of other insect-borne diseases like Lyme disease and...


Knowledge, ceremony, and an Indigenous approach to research

When non-Indigenous scientists wish to conduct research in Indigenous communities, cultural misunderstandings can arise over issues including the methods of research; ownership of data; and interpretation of results. In this podcast, Carrie Bourassa – Research Chair in Indigenous and Northern Health and Senior Scientist at Health Sciences North Research Institute in Sudbury, Ontario – introduces listeners to the complexities of conducting research in First Nations communities and the...


Trouver un traitement pour la sclérose latérale amyotrophique

Lorsque les virus ont infecté nos ancêtres il y a des millions d'années, ils ont laissé derrière eux des brins de leur ADN incorporés dans les cellules cérébrales humaines. À la University of Manitoba, une équipe de chercheurs, dont fait partie Mme Gurm, étudie ces séquences virales afin de comprendre les causes de la sclérose latérale amyotrophique, aussi connue sous le nom de maladie de Lou Gehrig. Ses travaux pourraient mener à de nouveaux traitements, comme des médicaments...


Seeking a treatment for ALS

When viruses infected our ancestors millions of years ago, they left behind strands of their DNA embedded in human brain cells. At the University of Manitoba, Sheena Gurm studies these viral sequences, as part of a research team seeking to understand the causes of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Her research may lead to new treatments, such as the use of antiretroviral drugs, to combat this debilitating and ultimately deadly affliction.


La quantique : un monde de possibilités

À partir des théories d’Einstein et de ses contemporains, les physiciens quantiques d’aujourd’hui étudient les propriétés singulières des particules subatomiques pour faire progresser notre connaissance de l’univers et préparer une nouvelle révolution technologique. Grâce à des applications dans des domaines comme l’informatique, la pharmacologie, l’énergie propre et bien d’autres encore, la science quantique recèle un potentiel énorme de rupture technologique. Découvrez les...


The solace of quantum

Building on the theories of Einstein and his contemporaries, today’s quantum physicists investigate the unique properties of sub-atomic particles, aiming to deepen our knowledge of the universe, and to usher in a new technological revolution. With applications in fields including computer science, pharmacology, clean energy, and many more, quantum science holds tremendous potential for innovative disruption. Learn more about emerging quantum technologies in this podcast featuring Dr....


Sight for sore eyes - Trefford Simpson researches the nerves of the cornea

Twenty years ago, University of Waterloo Optometry and Vision Science Professor Trefford Simpson began researching the nerves on the surface of the human eye, using a specialized machine called the pneumatic esthesiometer. In this podcast, he shares the insights gained over two decades of research, and discusses the elusive goal of modern lens-makers: to create a comfortable contact lens.


Michael Houghton’s 30-year quest to cure Hepatitis C

Michael Houghton’s discovery of the Hepatitis C virus in 1989 — along with colleagues Qui-Lim Choo and George Kuo — led to blood screening tests that have protected tens of millions of people from contracting the disease. In this podcast, Houghton — Canada Excellence Research Chair in Virology at the University of Alberta — discusses the scope of Hep C infection worldwide, describes his discovery of the virus and explains his current search for a vaccine that will help the World Health...


Dealing with mercury in food

At the Université de Montréal, Catherine Girard analyzes gut bacteria to understand the impacts of mercury in the human body. She is particularly interested in how mercury interacts with traditional foods in the North and the health impacts it has on those living there. Her PhD project has taken her to Resolute Bay, a remote hamlet in Nunavut, where she collects samples from the local Inuit population. In Montreal, she works in two CFI-funded biology labs and uses a gut simulator to...


Our origin story - PART 6: The way forward

In the 2017 Federal Budget, the word “innovation” appeared 262 times. Innovation's future as a buzzword is secure but in this episode, CFI President & CEO Gilles Patry and Board Chair Kevin Smith look at what innovation in Canada looks like today. They also comment on what needs to be done to ensure Canadian research continues to thrive.


Our origin story - PART 5: A new research strategy for Canada

To help reverse the brain drain that plagued Canada's research community in the 1990s, the newly established Canada Foundation for Innovation started outfitting Canadian universities with the state-of-the-art research infrastructure they sorely needed. But it would take more than funding a couple of new microscopes here and there — the CFI would need to turn the current system on its head to get the job done.


Our origin story - PART 4: An idea becomes reality

The new Canada Foundation for Innovation begins to assemble a talented team that charts an exciting course for the organization, but must also address opposition from Quebec. Researchers try to adjust to a new “mind blowing” way of doing research. And…the Queen is not amused by the CFI’s early success.


Our origin story - PART 3: The idea of CFI is born

The Liberal government suddenly finds itself facing a budget surplus for the first time in decades. Researchers, university presidents, government officials in the department of Finance and the PMO work on a plan to support research through an independent foundation that will invest in the cutting-edge labs and equipment researchers need.


Our origin story - PART 2: An unexpected opportunity

The Liberal government cuts spending across government so deeply, even Finance Minister Paul Martin faces a crisis of confidence. At the same time, university presidents try to convince Minister Martin that research in Canada is in serious trouble…and they offer an intriguing solution.


Our origin story - PART 1: Fiscal Armageddon

When the Wall Street Journal calls Canada the “Banana Republic of the North”, Jean Chrétien and his new Liberal government prepare to take dramatic action to control the deficit. This threatens to make a difficult situation even worse for Canadian researchers.


Our origin story - PROMO - Canada is the "Banana Republic of the North"

In this excerpt, former Deputy Minister of Finance Scott Clarke describes former Prime Minister Jean Chretien's reaction to a Wall Street Journal article in the late 1990s that called Canada the "Banana Republic of the North." This is a promo clip for the upcoming release of "Our origin story", a new four-part podcast series that traces the Canada Foundation for Innovation's unlikely origin story.