../Morning Post
Posted September 25, 2009
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Research Chair

New Canada research chairs study cancer detection, social cognition and nervous disorders

WATERLOO - A University of Waterloo professor will study how to improve cancer therapy and another will explore social cognition and nervous system disorders with support from two new Canada research chairs awarded yesterday by the federal government.

As well, five other Waterloo professors obtained renewals for their existing Canada research chairs. The positions allow faculty members to focus on research and training the next generation of scientists.

"With the new Canada research chair funding, Waterloo will continue to create an environment conducive for advanced research and offer a stimulating setting for our graduate students to engage in research," said George Dixon, Waterloo's vice-president of university research.

One of Waterloo's new Canada research chairs is John Yeow, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Micro and Nanodevices. He will receive $100,000 annually for five years.

Yeow, a professor of system design engineering, seeks to develop new diagnostic and therapeutic instruments to improve the quality of life of cancer patients through early detections and effective cancer treatments.

His work will design, develop, manufacture and test a miniaturized catheter device for in vivo (done in live isolated cells) imaging applications. The device allows physicians to view small human cavities that cannot be accessed at present, facilitating early detection of diseases such as cancer.

Yeow will also develop miniature radiation delivery instruments and sensors. These devices enable more focused and minimally invasive delivery of radiation beams, along with real-time measurement of the delivered dose during radiation therapy treatments.

The other new Canada research chair goes to Roxane Itier, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroimaging and Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Itier will receive $100,000 annually for five years.

Itier, a professor of psychology, uses behavioural and neuroimaging techniques to examine the neural basis of fundamental aspects of social cognition, including the processing of face identity, emotions and gaze direction across a person's life span.

Important insights into those functions will be made by studying patients with brain lesions and developmental disorders in which social interactions go awry - such as autism and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Social cognition refers to the set of mental skills necessary to understand how people interact and behave in groups.

The fundamental work will contribute to a better understanding of the social deficiencies seen in these pathologies and will lead to rehabilitation programs.

Five UW researchers won renewals for their Canada research chairs. Entering their second terms are Pu Chen, Canada Research Chair in Nanobiomaterials, $500,000; Achim Kempf, Canada Research Chair in the Physics of Information, 500,000; Srinivasan Keshav, Canada Research Chair in Tetherless Computing, $500,000; Ming Li, Canada Research Chair in Bioinformatics, $1,400,000; and Daniel Scott, Canada Research Chair in Global Change and Tourism, $500,000.

There are two levels of Canada research chairs. Seven-year chairs ($200,000 a year) are awarded to experienced researchers widely acknowledged as world leaders in their fields. Five-year chairs ($100,000 a year) recognize researchers considered by their peers as having the most potential to lead in their fields.

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