Aug. 16, 2017

CFI funds cutting-edge labs and equipment for eight UCalgary research projects

Researcher explores the maternal microbiome
Laura Syruco's grant will be used at the University of Calgary to purchase an anaerobic chamber and other specialized equipment for studying the microbiome.

Laura Syruco's grant will be used to purchase an anaerobic chamber and other specialized equipment.

Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

An emerging leader in microbial metagenomics, Laura Sycuro, PhD at the University of Calgary is investigating how bacteria in the maternal microbiome can affect pregnancy outcomes.

The microbiome is a collection of bacteria that live in and on the human body and affect human health. While the majority colonize the human digestive system, they actually live all over our body. One understudied area is the vaginal microbiome, which plays an important role in women’s sexual and reproductive health.

“The composition of the vaginal microbiome varies across a woman’s lifetime and with her genetic background or race,” says Sycuro, assistant professor in Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the Cumming School of Medicine, and member of the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases. “Certain compositions and organisms are associated with sexual health and healthy pregnancies, while others are associated with increased risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including chlamydia and HIV, and pregnancy complications such as miscarriage and preterm birth.”

John R. Evans Leaders Fund supports ground-breaking research in world-class facilities

Sycuro is leading one of eight UCalgary projects to receive funding through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF). The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, minister of science, announced an investment of more than $52 million in 220 new infrastructure projects at 51 universities across Canada. The funding will allow universities and researchers across Canada to carry out research in world-class facilities.

“Our scientists need the best tools and equipment for ground-breaking research and discovery and we are committed to ensuring they have them,” said Duncan. “Their successes will lead to an improved economy and will fuel an active research community here in Canada and internationally.”

Sycuro’s JELF grant will be used to purchase an anaerobic chamber and other specialized equipment for studying the microbiome. Her lab is affiliated with the soon-to-be-opened Western Canadian Microbiome Centre, located at the university’s Foothills campus.

“Dr. Sycuro’s research aligns with UCalgary’s priority research theme Infections, Inflammation and Chronic Diseases,” says Ed McCauley, vice-president (research). “This investment in infrastructure will have a long-range impact, supporting the maternal and child microbiome research that will form the foundation of a world-class multidisciplinary research program.”

Sycuro's lab looks at the vaginal microbiome and how it can affect pregnancy outcomes.

Sycuro's lab looks at the vaginal microbiome and how it can affect pregnancy outcomes.

The full list of University of Calgary JELF award recipients includes:

Cumming School of Medicine:

  • Markus Geuking, Immunity of Host-Microbial Interactions
  • Ashley Harris, Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy in Brain Injury
  • Quan Long, Computational Infrastructure for Predictive Medical Genomics
  • Gerald Pfeffer, Neuromouscular Genetics Program
  • Laura Sycuro, Infrastructure for Resolving Strain and Gene Function in the Microbiome
  • Edwin Wang, Cancer Control and Management
  • Robert Rose, Establishment of a Multidisciplinary and Translational Laboratory to Study Heart Disease

Faculty of Veterinary Medicine:

  • Kent Hecker, The Health Education Neuroassessment Laboratory

About the Canada Foundation for Innovation

The Canada Foundation for Innovation gives researchers the tools they need to think big and innovate. By investing in state-of-the-art facilities and equipment in Canada’s universities, colleges, research hospitals and non-profit research institutions, the CFI is helping to attract and retain the world’s top talent, to train the next generation of researchers, to support private-sector innovation and to create high-quality jobs that strengthen the economy and improve the quality of life for all Canadians.

John R. Evans Leaders Fund

The CFI pays tribute to the outstanding contributions of Dr. John R. Evans, the CFI’s first board chair, by renaming one of the CFI’s core funds in his honour. At a time of intense international competition, the John R. Evans Leaders Fund is a critical strategic investment tool designed to help institutions attract and retain the very best of today’s and tomorrow’s researchers.