Researchers at York University receive $9 million in CFI funding


Innovation Fund will support research in fundamental physics, biopharmaceutical development, and 3D tech for space exploration

TORONTO, March 3, 2021 –Three major research projects at York University have received more than $9 million in research infrastructure funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation. The Right Honourable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced more than $518 million in research infrastructure funding today, to support 102 projects at 35 post-secondary institutions and research hospitals across the country.

The Hon. Francois Philippe-Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, will speak with York University Professor George Zhu, in an interview at 1pm today.

York University Distinguished Research Professor Eric Hessels has been awarded $3,360,000 from the CFI Innovation Fund for the project Tabletop Probe of PeV-scale new physics. A professor in York’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, Hessels was recently honoured for his work in high-precision atomic physics measurements and their significance as tests of fundamental physics. This CFI grant will allow for ultra-precise measurements that will test the fundamental laws of physics at energies that are much higher than the 14-TeV Large Hadron Collider at CERN.  The infrastructure will be used to test whether the electron is spherical, or whether it has an electric dipole moment − a small distortion in its charge distribution. Such a distortion would be evidence that a fundamental symmetry of physics is violated at high energies, making matter act differently than antimatter, and could help to explain why the universe is made entirely out of matter, rather than antimatter.   

Professor and York Research Chair Derek Wilson has been awarded almost $2.1 million as principal investigator of a project with York University Distinguished Research Professor Sergey Krylov, Technology-Enhanced Drug Development and Manufacturing (TEnDev): MirrorLab. Their research in the Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, is centered on the development of powerful new bioanalytical technologies that provide high detail, dynamic pictures of how drugs interact with their protein targets. TEnDev will enable Canadian international leadership in pre-clinical drug development and manufacturing through the creation of a globally competitive hub for technological innovation in biopharmaceuticals research. The result will be a greatly expanded capacity for biopharmaceuticals research at York University, and a distinct competitive advantage for pharmaceutical companies choosing to locate R & D activities in the surrounding region. TEnDev will also generate direct health benefits for Canadians through accelerated drug approvals and improved manufacturing quality.

Professor George Zhu has been awarded almost $3.6 million for Intelligent Additive Manufacturing Technology for Space Exploration, a project that will lead a transformation in mass and volume reduction for rocket launching satellites into space and self-sustained medical support to human spaceflight.  A professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Lassonde School of Engineering, Zhu aims to develop transformative Artificial Intelligence (AI) enhanced Additive Manufacturing (AM) and 3D bioprinting technologies for human space exploration in three new frontiers: near net-shape manufacturing by AI enhanced AM; lightweight multifunctional materials; and 3D bioprinting for regenerative medicine. The long-term objectives are to make spacecraft, payloads and surgical instruments with AM technology operated autonomously by intelligent robots, and 3D print implantable biological substitutes to enable in-situ medical treatment of astronauts in space. The goal is to create functional prototypes of selected AI-AM systems for spaceflight, within five years, as well as scaffold-free 3D bioprinting technology ready for spaceflight, and new lightweight multifunctional materials and metamaterials.


“Canada's researchers and scientists are some of the brightest and most skilled in the world. Today’s investments will ensure that they have what they need to help us build a Canada that is healthier, cleaner, and more competitive.”
— The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

“Great science and research is the first step in driving innovation. Now more than ever, Canadians are looking to their researchers to develop innovative solutions to real-world problems. The Government of Canada is proud to support today’s funding recipients, who are harnessing their expertise and dedication to make the important discoveries that will serve Canadians now and in the future.”
— The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

“We are grateful for this visionary investment in the infrastructure needed to support York University’s ground-breaking research activities. The grants from CFI’s Innovation Fund will enable York to conduct fundamental research, helping us to better understand our planet and universe; develop technologies to address complex social, health, environmental, and economic challenges; and drive positive change in Canada and around the world.”
— Rhonda Lenton, York University President and Vice-Chancellor

“York’s projects will help Canada remain at the forefront of exploration and knowledge transformation in next gen fields, ranging from application of additive manufacturing for space exploration to technology enhanced drug development and studying physical phenomena at the penta-electronvolt scale. “They will also make meaningful contributions to improving the lives of Canadians and people around the world.”
— Amir Asif, York University Vice-President Research & Innovation

Watch: Minister Champagne’s conversation with York Professor George Zhu at 1pm, on the CFI Facebook or at this Zoom link.

York University is a modern, multi-campus, urban university located in Toronto, Ontario. Backed by a diverse group of students, faculty, staff, alumni and partners, we bring a uniquely global perspective to help solve societal challenges, drive positive change and prepare our students for success. York's fully bilingual Glendon Campus is home to Southern Ontario's Centre of Excellence for French Language and Bilingual Postsecondary Education. York’s campuses in Costa Rica and India offer students exceptional transnational learning opportunities and innovative programs. Together, we can make things right for our communities, our planet, and our future.

Media Contact:
Janice Walls, York University Media Relations, 416-455-4710,