UBC Okanagan health care and math researchers receive federal research funding

How priorities are set in health care, and mathematical optimization are being explored at UBC Okanagan by two new Canada Research Chairs appointed today in health studies and mathematics. Two other new and two re-appointed investigators at UBC’s Vancouver campus were also confirmed as Canada Research Chairs.

The six positions are valued at $3.9 million, and are among 90 federally funded research positions, representing a total investment of more than $61 million distributed to universities, research institutes and hospitals across Canada today. In addition, the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) supported the UBC positions with $350,000 and provided $5.7 million across Canada.

UBC has appointed 138 of the 165 positions allocated to the university since the program’s inception in 1997.

The federally funded research positions are designed to build Canada’s research capacity, and invests $300 million annually to appoint 2,000 investigators by 2008.

“Attracting and retaining outstanding researchers like these greatly contributes to UBC being consistently ranked in the top 40 of the world’s best universities,” says Lorne Whitehead, UBC Vice-president, Academic.

Craig Mitton, Canada Research Chair in Health Care Priority Setting, is a professor of health studies with UBC Okanagan’s Faculty of Health and Social Development. He will develop and apply methods to help health-care decision makers to set priorities and allocate scarce resources to meet local, regional and national objectives.

Mathematician Heinz Bauschke, a professor with the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences at UBC Okanagan, is the Canada Research Chair in Convex Analysis and Optimization.

Optimization is used in mathematics, physics, and engineering, and provides theory and algorithms (mathematical procedures) to solve convex feasibility problems, or problems subject to given constraints. Bauschke’s research will contribute to solutions in areas ranging from communications, optics, to network flow problems and radiation therapy treatment planning.

Other faculty members at UBC Okanagan currently holding Canada Research Chairs are:

  • Dr. Lawrence Berg, Canada Research Chair in Geography
  • Dr. Michael Evans, Canada Research Chair in Anthropology
  • Dr. Susan Murch, Canada Research Chair in Natural Products Chemistry
  • Dr. Karen Hodges, Canada Research Chair in Evolution and Ecology

Other UBC appointments today are:

Nemkumar Banthia, a UBC professor of Civil Engineering, is the Canada Research Chair in Infrastructure Rehabilitation and Sustainability. Repairing and strengthening concrete structures has become a critical issue in Canada because of severe corrosion of steel in concrete, changes in code provisions, and increases in design loads. Banthia will develop crack-free, environmentally friendly and highly durable cement-based repair materials, and further develop his innovative, cost-effective structural strengthening technique that uses sprayed fibre-reinforced polymers.

Tserying Shakya, who comes to UBC from Oxford University, is a world expert on Tibet. As Canada Research Chair in Religion and Contemporary Society in Asia, he will found the China Nationalities Language Centre at UBC’s Institute of Asian Research – the first such electronic research facility in Canada, Shakya’s work will contribute to Canada’s understanding of China and Tibet and the relationships of religion and contemporary society throughout Asia.

In addition to the four new positions, Shawn Mansfield, Canada Research Chair in Wood and Fibre Quality and Steven Plotkin, Canada Research Chair in Theoretical Biophysics, have had their appointments renewed for five years.

Chair appointments provide research and salary support for either seven- or five-year terms. The seven-year terms are renewable; the five-year terms can be renewed once.

The CFI is an independent corporation established by the Government of Canada in 1997 to strengthen research capacity at Canadian universities, colleges, research hospitals and other not-for-profit institutions.

For more information on Canada Research Chairs, visit www.chairs.gc.ca.

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