NSERC awards over $1 million to York-led research partnerships


Funding supports projects in 3D film and personalized cancer diagnosis over three years

TORONTO, January 20, 2011 − Two York-led industry-academic partnerships have received a total of $1,237,136 through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada's (NSERC) Strategic Projects Grants program.

Sergey Krylov, professor in the Faculty of Science and Engineering and Canada Research Chair in Bioanalytical Chemistry, has received $773,200 over three years to explore new therapies to treat metastatic cancers − secondary tumors that originate from a malignant primary tumor and subsequently invade different organs.

Laurie Wilcox, associate professor in the Faculty of Health’s Department of Psychology is co-principal investigator on Depth in Motion with Ali Kazimi, associate professor in the Faculty of Fine Arts’ Department of Film. Theirs will be the first research project to rigorously assess human responses to moving content in stereoscopic 3D film (S3D) while challenging current practices and intuitions filmmakers have garnered through 2D and static 3D experience. The grant is provided through a collaborative initiative between NSERC and the Canada Council for the Arts; NSERC has provided $286,836 while the Canada Council has provided $177,100 for a cumulative three-year total of $463,936.

Krylov has partnered with AB SCIEX, whose Canadian offices are based in Concord, Ontario, to create personalized diagnoses and therapy monitoring for metastatic cancers. Current difficulties in detecting and eradicating these tumors significantly contribute to cancer mortality rates; therapies that are efficient for one patient often do not work for others. Their research uses Aptamers − short DNA strands capable of selectively binding molecules on cell surfaces − to serve as tracers for metastatic cancer tumors and, potentially, as vehicles to deliver drugs to metastatic cells.

Wilcox and Kazimi will collaborate with Robert Allison, associate professor in the Faculty of Science & Engineering’s Department of Computer Science & Engineering, to create an independent S3D film installation based on a piece of dance choreography and presented in both a large-scale S3D projection format and on multiple S3D displays. Audience members will move through a gallery space and choose to view the large-scale screen or one of the alternative displays containing different motion in depth sequences. The project will evaluate movement’s effect through depth on observer preferences, determine if these preferences are contingent on the nature of the movement, and determine if pacing differences exist between 2D and S3D film content.

Jim Mirkopolos, vice-president of operations for Toronto-based Cinespace Film Studios, is the project’s industry collaborator; Cinespace's Kleinburg studios are providing space to set up and test the installation later in the project.

“These projects build on York’s expanding expertise in digital media and life science research, and our value-added industry-academic partnerships,” said Stan Shapson, vice-president Research & Innovation. “Depth in Motion is a natural next step in the 3D film research York began through the 3D FLIC project in partnership with Toronto-based industry leaders, and demonstrates the innovation unleashed when the creative arts and science converge. Professor Krylov’s work with AB SCIEX in York Region has a six-year history that involves two past successful collaborations and will further contribute York’s scientific expertise to the region’s growing and vibrant biotech sector.”

York’s projects were among 120 chosen to receive a total of $55 million in funding under NSERC’s Strategic Project Grants program, which aims to turn the results of academic research into real benefits for Canadians.

The announcement was made by the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Techology) in Waterloo, Ontario. “Supporting science and research is critical to Canada’s future economic growth,” said Minister Goodyear. “This investment will bring together 100 teams of some of the world’s top researchers to work with industry on promising new projects that will help strengthen our economy, create jobs and bring other benefits to communities.”

"These Strategic Project Grants show that the NSERC community has risen to the challenge and is putting the federal S&T strategy to work,” said NSERC President Suzanne Fortier. “We received a high number of quality submissions, and the peer review committees were impressed with the research teams’ excellence, their proposals’ importance and potential impact, and the strong support from partners.”

For a complete list of NSERC recipients, visit NSERC’s Web site.

NSERC is a federal agency that helps make Canada a country of discoverers and innovators for all Canadians. The agency supports some 30,000 postsecondary students and postdoctoral fellows in their advanced studies. NSERC promotes discovery by funding more than 12,000 professors every year and fosters innovation by encouraging more than 1,500 Canadian companies to participate and invest in postsecondary research projects.

York University is the leading interdisciplinary research and teaching university in Canada. York offers a modern, academic experience at the undergraduate and graduate level in Toronto, Canada’s most international city. The third largest university in the country, York is host to a dynamic academic community of 50,000 students and 7,000 faculty and staff, as well as 200,000 alumni worldwide. York’s 10 Faculties and 28 research centres conduct ambitious, groundbreaking research that is interdisciplinary, cutting across traditional academic boundaries. This distinctive and collaborative approach is preparing students for the future and bringing fresh insights and solutions to real-world challenges. York University is an autonomous, not-for-profit corporation.


Media Contact:
Elizabeth Monier-Williams, Research Communications, York University, 416 736 2100 x21069 / eamw@yorku.ca / @yuresearch