Northern Medical Program Professor Named UNBC’s Ninth Canada Research Chair

A professor in the Northern Medical Program (NMP) at UNBC has been named the University’s ninth Canada Research Chair. The Canada Research Chairs (CRC) is a program that stands at the centre of a national strategy to make Canada one of the world’s top countries in research and development. The CRC program invests yearly to attract and retain some of the world’s most accomplished minds.

“Our government’s top priority is creating jobs, growth and long term prosperity,” said Minister of State (Science and Technology) Gary Goodyear. “By investing in talented people through programs such as the Canada Research Chairs, our government is supporting cutting-edge research in Canadian post-secondary institutions. This fosters innovation by helping researchers bring their ideas to the marketplace, where they can touch the lives of Canadians.”

Dr. Sarah Gray, the NMP’s first-ever Canada Research Chair appointment, has been named a CRC in the Integrative Physiology of Diabetes. The NMP is a part of the Faculty of Medicine at UNBC. Dr. Gray’s research is funded for $500,000 over the next five years. “This is a great honour for me,” says Dr. Gray. “I feel very fortunate to have this funding for my research and to have the stability it will provide my lab for the next five years.”

Dr. Gray’s research focuses on the link between obesity and diabetes. Recent data suggests there are 350 million diabetics in the world. Three million of these cases are Canadians, who in 2010 incurred a cost of $12.2 billion. “Novel strategies to reduce diabetes prevalence are urgently needed,” says Dr. Gray. “My research aims to understand the biological processes linking obesity with diabetes. Our goal is to identify therapeutic targets to reverse or even prevent diabetes and provide empirical evidence to support lifestyle interventions.”

“It’s very fitting that a researcher of Dr. Gray’s caliber has been appointed as the NMP’s first Canada Research Chair,” says UNBC Vice Provost of Medicine and UBC’s Regional Associate Dean for Northern BC, Dr. Paul Winwood. “This is emblematic of the NMP’s maturation as a research institution, and reflects the fact that our faculty conduct world-class research in addition to training physicians.”

In total, $121.6 million is being invested to support 155 newly-awarded or renewed Canada Research Chairs. These chair-holders will undertake new, cutting edge research at 42 Canadian post-secondary institutions. “With this federal funding, chair-holders will improve our depth of knowledge and quality of life, strengthen Canada’s international competitiveness and train the next generation of highly skilled people,” adds Chad Gaffield, President of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Chair of the Canada Research Chair Steering Committee.

Hanna Petersen 

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