Posted November 22nd, 2013 by Engineering

U of T Engineers Win Grants from Grand Challenges Canada

U of T Engineers got a big boost for their work in the developing world, thanks to grants from Grand Challenges Canada (GCC). Four of eight grants awarded to U of T researchers go to Engineering faculty: Timothy Chan (MIE), Radhakrishnan Mahadevan (ChemE), Javad Mostaghimi (MIE) and Edmond Young (MIE).

“This is a testament to the outstanding quality and standard of research here, and reflects the global impact U of T Engineering has,” said Professor Ted Sargent (ECE), Vice-Dean, Research, Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering.

Overall, the U of T research includes applications ranging from implementing a low-cost test for diagnosing malaria in Tanzania to reducing ambulance response times in Bangladesh.

The U of T researchers have been granted a collective $890,095 from GCC, through is ‘Stars in Global Health’ program. The focus of the funding – which comes from the Government of Canada – is on healthcare innovations that could transform the way disease is treated in the developing world.

“Innovation powers development leading to better health and more jobs.  I feel proud that Canada, through Grand Challenges Canada, has supported almost 300 bold ideas to date in our Stars in Global Health program,” said Dr. Peter A. Singer, chief executive officer, GCC and a professor in U of T’s Faculty of Medicine. “This is one of the largest pipelines of innovations in global health in the world today.”

In addition to the projects of U of T researchers, GCC funded 75 other initiatives being led by researchers from a variety of other countries.

“On behalf of the U of T research community, congratulations to these global health experts,” said Professor Paul Young (CivE), Vice President, Research and Innovation at U of T. “We are thrilled that these scientists are contributing to the global fight to improve health and health care in developing countries. The health challenges people face are as difficult as ever, but researchers like these people will make a vital impact in collaboration with others around the world. We are deeply thankful to Grand Challenges Canada for this important investment.”

The U of T Grand Challenges Canada recipients from Engineering and their videos are:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrEfm98N2wU?feature=player_embedded]

Professor Timothy Chan, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
AERO: Ambulance Emergency Response Optimization system for developing countries

“We will reduce ambulance response times by developing a software system leveraging existing infrastructure that optimizes ambulance pre-positioning locations, and provides real-time travel time estimation and route optimization info to drivers.”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnOL9n06xJI?feature=player_embedded]

Professor Radhakrishnan Mahadevan, Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry
Low cost TB drugs created using synthetic biology (India)

“An estimated 9 million people are infected with multi drug-resistant TB; 1.4 million die per year. Successful completion of this University of Toronto-led project will lead to an innovative yeast-based bioprocess for the low-cost synthesis of antibiotic and lower the cost (now $5,000 per patient) of treating the disease in the developing world.”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFlCQPUhjoA?feature=player_embedded]

Professor Javad Mostaghimi, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
Development of Antibacterial Copper Coatings for Reducing Healthcare-Associated Infections

“Copper and its alloys are known to efficiently kill bacteria. The idea is to deposit a well-adhered thin layer of copper-based coatings on frequently touched surfaces of two intensive care units and compare them to a standard ICU over a long period.”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muVuusz-ewU?feature=player_embedded]

Professor Edmond Young, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
Simple liquid microculture assay for diagnosing multidrug-resistant tuberculosis

“Current methods of detecting TB remain inadequate for low-resource settings. Our idea is to develop new technology for detecting TB via direct liquid microculture that is cheap, easy to use, and able to assess resistance to many drugs at once.”

Additional U of T recipients of grants from Grand Challenges are:

Professor Shana Kelley, Biochemistry
Lab-free, low-cost malaria testing

Professor Stephanie Nixon, Physical Therapy and Dalla Lana School of Public Health
Free new online resources for the rehabilitation of HIV-related disability patients in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA)  

Professor Barry Rosen, U of T Obstetrics and Gynaecology and University Health Network
Taking a LEEP! Implementing a “See and LEEP” strategy for women in Western Kenya with positive cervical cancer screening

Professor G. Andrew Woolley, Chemistry
A simple yeast-based blood screening assay