January 15, 2018

Innovation Saskatchewan Program Sparks Collaboration and Research Innovation in Health

Five winning projects have been selected from the province’s first SPARK Night, a networking and match-making type program for researchers, which took place in November 2017.  Each project will receive $5,000 in seed grants for preliminary research work. SPARK Night was created to help increase collaboration across research institutes which are funded by Innovation Saskatchewan.

This premiere event focused on health.  It was successful in attracting almost 50 researchers from 16 different institutes - connecting scholars with similar areas of interest so they could interact and identify areas for joint study in the future.

“It is impressive to see this connection happening across research institutes in Saskatchewan,” Minister Responsible for Innovation Steven Bonk said.  “The province has high-quality, world-class researchers we can be proud of, and the results of the first SPARK Night show there is the opportunity to do even greater work by combining strengths and knowledge.”

Working together in groups, researchers from the Universities of Saskatchewan and Regina and other institutes participated in SPARK Night and submitted 16 different project proposals for seed funding from Innovation Saskatchewan.

The following final project selections were made:

  • Bone tissue engineering: Daniel Chen (Engineering) and David Cooper (Medicine);
  • Understanding the genetic evolution of coronavirus: Vikram Misra, Arinjay Banerjee (Western College of Veterinary Medicine) and Darryl Falzarano (VIDO-InterVac);
  • Tracing uptake of medical compounds in the body with a new radiotracer: Christopher Phenix (Department of Chemistry) and Robert Laprairie (Pharmacy and Nutrition);
  • Genomic discovery of antimicrobial resistance in salmonella: Andrew Cameron (Department of Biology) and Anatoliy Trokhymchuk (Prairie Diagnostic Services); and
  • Precision diagnostic test for human papilloma virus: Silvana Papagerakis (College of Dentistry) and Anatoliy Trokhymchuk (Prairie Diagnostic Services).

The funding will support preliminary research work in each of these projects.  Results from the research will be useful in helping the projects secure follow-up funding from other provincial and federal sources in the future.