Three new Canada Research Chairs named at Western; six renewed


By Communications Staff
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
On a day several hundred Canada Research Chairs (CRC) gathered in Toronto to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the prestigious program, the Government of Canada announced three new and six renewed Chairs at The University of Western Ontario. 
These include:

• New Tier Two CRC in Viral Immunity & Pathogenesis Mansour Haeryfar, who is developing a better understanding of immune responses to viruses in order to create strategies for rational vaccine design and treatment of infectious diseases. Specifically, Haeryfar and his team at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry are examining a specialized subset of immune cells called cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs), which provide an important line of defence against viral invaders. CTLs recognize virus-infected cells and eliminate them by using their arsenal of lethal molecules.

“Infectious diseases caused by naturally occurring or emerging viruses represent one of the greatest threats to mankind,” Haeryfar says. “They can potentially wipe out large sections of human populations, send many people to hospital and impose a heavy burden on the world and the Canadian economy.” 

• The extensive wetlands west of James Bay are among the largest on Earth, and Biology professor Brian Branfireun is particularly interested in how they influence the water quality of rivers that flow through them. Named Tier Two CRC in Environment and Sustainability, he links water, chemistry and ecology to understand the impact of climate and land-use changes on northern wetland ecosystems so we can effectively manage them now and in the future.

“My work provides scientific information to regulators, policy-makers and northern residents alike on the role large northern wetlands play in governing water quality, and how this sensitive and understudied environment is going to respond to climate change,” Branfireun says.

• Kinesiology professor Kevin Shoemaker, new Tier One Canada Research Chair in Integrative Physiology of Exercise and Health, studies the impact of vascular disease and exercise on blood flow to nerves involved in movement. This research is particularly relevant to the health and mobility of aging populations as it deals with a common problem behind many chronic diseases that affect one’s ability to move freely.

“Evidence of the broad benefits of exercise for health – and the mechanisms by which these benefits are provided – will improve our methods of disease prevention and treatment, and enhance the provision of physical exercise throughout our lifespan as a treatment that complements current clinical practice,” Shoemaker says.

An additional six Western Chairholders had their CRCs renewed for another term:

• Trevor Birmingham, Tier Two CRC in Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation
• Ann Chambers, Tier One CRC in Oncology
• Dale Laird, Tier One CRC in Gap Junctional Intercellular Communication and Disease
• Shawn Li, Tier Two CRC in Functional Genomics and Cellular Proteomics
• Joy Parr, Tier One CRC in Technology, Culture and Risk
• Gregory Zaric, Tier Two CRC in Health Care Management Science

The Chairs program has been designed to encourage and promote top research and innovation in universities.  Tier One Chairs receive $200,000 annually for seven years to fund their research and are awarded to outstanding researchers who have developed reputations as world leaders in their fields.  Tier Two Chairholders receive $100,000 annually for five years and are recognized as exceptional and emerging researchers with the potential to lead their respective fields.

For more information about the Canada Research Chairs program, please visit

Jeff Renaud, Senior Media Relations Officer, 519-661-2111, ext. 85165














Media Relations team

Keith Marnoch
Director, Media Relations
519-661-2111 x85468

Jeff Renaud
Senior Media Relations Officer
519-661-2111, ext. 85165

Susanna Eayrs

Communications Officer

Kathy Wallis

Media Relations Officer
Medicine & Dentistry Robarts Research Institute
519-661-2111, ext. 81136

Douglas Keddy

Research Communications Manager
Research Western
519-661-2111, ext. 87485

Ivan Langrish
Senior Manager, Media Strategy Richard Ivey School of Business


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