Four Western faculty members were named Canada Research Chairs today for their global leadership in the fields of mental health, archaeology, materials science and lifelong mobility. A fifth chair has been renewed for continued excellence in neuroscience.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the CRC program invests up to $295-million annually to attract, support and retain some of the world’s most outstanding scholars and scientists, including researchers in the early stages of their careers as well as those who have already made significant contributions in their fields. Chairholders pursue research excellence in engineering and the natural sciences, health sciences, humanities and social sciences.
“I am particularly thrilled to see four strong women from various disciplines at Western among those recognized by the Canada Research Chairs program today,” said Lesley Rigg, vice-president (research). “This program is not only the gold standard for excellence in Canada; it supports research that is transformational and will impact our future.”
Chairholders with Tier 1 designation are acknowledged as leaders already making noteworthy impact in their fields; Tier 2 chairs are exceptional emerging researchers recognized for their potential to lead in their fields.
The CRCs newly announced or renewed at Western today are:
Kelly Anderson, CRC in Public Mental Health Research at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry (Tier 2 CRC, funded through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research)
Mental health disorders are responsible for a large portion of the suffering, lost productivity and health-care costs in Canada. High-quality data is needed to improve on mental health service delivery, but Canada-specific data is often lacking. Anderson studies public mental health using databases from the Canadian health-care system to better understand the distribution of mental health disorders and patterns of health-service use. Her research aims to improve those services and increase access to care for Canadians with serious mental illness.
Elizabeth (Beth) Greene, CRC in Roman Archaeology at the Faculty of Arts & Humanities (Tier 2 CRC, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council)
Ancient Rome provided the foundation for the socio-political structures that shape our modern society. Greene’s research uses the largest assemblage of archaeological footwear and leather from any Roman site on the planet to glean insights into the demographics, health and social status of the Roman world. Her multidisciplinary approach gives researchers in archaeology, Classics, anthropology, kinesiology, art history and chemistry data that will help build historical models and a multi-perspective understanding of human health and social issues.
Yolanda Hedberg, CRC in Corrosion Science at the Faculty of Science (Tier 2 CRC, funded by the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council)
Medical implants, drinking water quality and the metallic smell in the subway are all influenced by the interface between metals and biomolecules. This interface never sleeps: physical, chemical and electrochemical reactions are going on constantly. Hedberg’s research aims to increase the safety of biomedical materials and their use by predicting reaction mechanisms and rates when metals and biomolecules meet, such as in medical implants and in procedures using nanoparticles. The corrosion mechanisms of these metal devices, which depend on their composition, design and manufacture, and on the patient’s infection status, must be understood for optimal application.
Joy MacDermid, CRC in Musculoskeletal Health Outcomes and Knowledge Translation at the Faculty of Health Sciences (Tier 1 CRC, funded by CIHR)
MacDermid’s research develops new approaches to orthopedic surgery and musculoskeletal rehabilitation that integrate both technological advances and patient-centred factors. Through surveys, people with musculoskeletal conditions and injured workers will provide input about their needs in the design and analysis of rehab interventions. The interventions that show promise in the development phase will be tested in rigorous clinical trials. With peer-to-peer training and a socially connected approach, the research aims to improve access to physical rehabilitation and reduce reliance on opioids for pain management.
Andrew Pruszynski, CRC (renewal) in Sensorimotor Neuroscience at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry (Tier 2 CRC, funded by CIHR)
Movement usually appears effortless, but it actually requires complex interactions between brain and body. Pruszynski’s research aims to explain how the nervous system handles and exploits these interactions when reaching, grasping and manipulating objects. Addressing these neural mechanisms under naturalistic conditions is essential to the understanding of sensorimotor function and may lead to better treatment of traumas and diseases such as stroke and peripheral nerve injury that can fundamentally disrupt these interactions and dramatically impair movement.