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$9.5 million in grants to UVic researchers will have vital impact

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Canada Research Chair in Biomedical Engineering Stephanie Willerth at work in her Willerth Lab at UVic in January 2017. Credit: UVic Photo Services.

Cutting-edge research at the University of Victoria got a big boost today as Federal Science Minister Kirsty Duncan arrived on campus to announce $9.5 million in Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) grants to 81 faculty members and students.

NSERC President Mario Pinto also attended the announcement of UVic recipients awarded a 2017 Discovery Grant, a flagship program for basic research funding in Canada for the past century in the areas of natural sciences and engineering.

“These awards recognize that creativity and innovation drive research advances,” says UVic President Jamie Cassels. “We appreciate NSERC’s vital ongoing support for fundamental research and the training of the next generation of our leaders in natural sciences and engineering.”

The federal funding announced today includes $7.8 million in individual grants to 48 UVic researchers, with an additional $1.7 million awarded in scholarships, fellowships and accelerator supplements to other faculty and students. NSERC is providing a total $515 million in Discovery Grants this year to researchers at Canadian universities.

Biomedical engineer Stephanie Willerth, who spoke at this morning’s announcement at the Student Union Building at UVic, is receiving her second Discovery Grant this year. Her most recent award provides $120,000 over five years for Willerth’s work engineering neural tissue from stem cells. The research is vital to the future of regenerative medicine – the ability to one day grow a new liver for transplant using the recipient’s own cells, for instance – and new drug therapies for conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Willerth works with a number of industry partners in her research, including Saanich-based Starfish Medical and Vancouver’s Aspect Biosystems, which specializes in 3D printing platforms for bio-tissue. 

“We believe in encouraging scientists’ cutting-edge ideas that will lead Canada to greater social and economic growth,” says Duncan.

A backgrounder is available here with more information on UVic’s Discovery Grants and the four researchers who met with the federal science minister as part of today’s announcement.

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Jody Paterson (University Communications + Marketing) at 250-721-8746 or

Click here for the backgrounder.

In this story

Keywords: NSERC, STEM, funding, natural sciences, engineering, clean energy, research, biomedical

People: Stephanie Willerth, Brad Buckham, Fraser Hof, Dean Karlen, Kirsty Duncan

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