UBC leading high-risk, high-reward interdisciplinary research supported by New Frontiers in Research Fund Competitions

April 25, 2023

The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, and the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, announced more than $200 million in support for Canadian-led interdisciplinary, international, high-risk and high-reward research through the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF).

Through three different NFRF competitions, the government will support 195 projects.

The NFRF 2022 Transformation competition is funding six large-scale, interdisciplinary research projects that address major challenges; the NFRF 2022 Exploration competition is funding 128 research projects that are bringing disciplines together in novel ways to form bold, innovative perspectives; and the NFRF 2022 Special Call on research for postpandemic recovery is supporting 61 research teams that will mobilize efforts in support of a more equitable, sustainable and resilient postpandemic reality by addressing priorities identified in the UN Research Roadmap for the COVID-19 Recovery.

16 projects led by UBC researchers were awarded almost $29 million through these programs.


UBC-led projects

2022 Transformation stream 

Rare Isotopes to Transform Cancer Therapy

PI: Bénard, François (Radiology)

Co-PI: Ramogida, Caterina (Simon Fraser University)
UBC Co-applicants: Lin, Kuo-Shyan (Radiology); Perrin, David (Chemistry); Reid, Gregor (Pediatrics)
Other Co-applicants: Beauregard, Jean-Mathieu (Université Laval); Guérin, Brigitte (Université de Sherbrooke); Hoehr, Cornelia (TRIUMF); Luyt, Leonard (Western University); Radchenko, Valery (TRIUMF); Regier, Dean (BC Cancer - BC Cancer Research Centre); Reilly, Raymond (University of Toronto); Schaffer, Paul (TRIUMF); Schirrmacher, Ralf (University of Alberta); Uribe, Carlos (BC Cancer); Wuest, Frank (University of Alberta); Yang, Hua (TRIUMF)
Collaborators: Koester, Ulli (Institut Laue-Langevin ); Ooms, Maarten (SCK CEN); Price, Eric (University of Saskatchewan); Seimbille, Yann (Erasmus MC); van der Meulen, Nicholas (Paul Sherrer Institute); Van der Voorde, Michiel (SCK CEN)
Award: $23.8 million over six years

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2022 Exploration stream 

10 UBC-led projects were awarded a combined $2.5 million

  • PI: Algar, W Russ (Chemistry)
    Co-PI: Li, Xiaoxiao (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
    Co-applicant: Wang, Gang (Pathology and Laboratory Medicine)
    Cell-Based Medical Diagnostic Testing on a Smartphone for Low-Resource Communities
  • PI: Cao, Yankai (Chemical and Biological Engineering)
    Co-applicant: Lu, Qiugang (Texas Tech)
    Global Optimal and Interpretable Models for Grid-Scale Battery Management
  • PI: Cembrowski, Mark (Cellular & Physiological Sciences)
    Co-applicants: Fatehi, Mostafa (Neurosurgery); Hirsch-Reinshagen, Veronica (Pathology and Laboratory Medicine); Maguire, John (Pathology and Laboratory Medicine); Redekop, Gary (Neurosurgery); Yachie, Nozomu (School of Biomedical Engineering)
    The cell-type-specific basis of epilepsy and treatment in the living human brain
  • PI: Charest-Morin, Raphaele (Orthopaedics)
    Co-applicants: Bettegowda, Chetan (Johns Hopkins); Dea, Nicolas (Neurosurgery); Yip, Stephen (Pathology and Laboratory Medicine)
    Personalized medicine for primary bone tumors of the spine
  • PI: Hung, Lillian (Nursing)
    Co-applicants: Lim, Angelica (Simon Fraser University); Mortenson, Ben (Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy)
    Co-create virtual reality with patients, families, staff, decision-makers, and industry to achieve inclusivity and sustainability
  • PI: Kravchenko, Sergey (Materials Engineering)
    Co-PI: Stenning, David (Simon Fraser University)
    Non-destructive, probabilistic reconstruction of the fiber orientation distribution in compression molded fiber reinforced polymer composite based on thermal imaging and Bayesian inference
  • PI: Low, Margaret (School of Community and Regional Planning)
    Co-PI: Cole, Lindsay (Educational Studies / School of Public Policy and Global Affairs)
    Accelerating Transformative Public Sector Innovation Toward Social and Ecological Justice
  • PI: Ma, Hongshen (Mechanical Engineering)
    Co-applicant: Johnson, Pauline (Microbiology and Immunology)
    Immune profiling using single cell cytokine secretome and transcriptome analysis
  • PI: Madhav, Manu (Biomedical Engineering)
    Co-PI: Miolane, Nina (UC Santa Barbara)
    Modeling the geometry and symmetry of cognitive maps
  • PI: Zou, Zhengbo (Civil Engineering)
    Co-PI: Im, Hee Yeon (Psychology)
    Social-emotional intelligence in construction robots: reducing barriers for dynamic human-robot collaboration in construction environments

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2022 Special call: Research for Postpandemic Recovery 

5 UBC-led projects were awarded a combined $2.5 million

  • PI: Cao, Yankai (Chemical and Biological Engineering)
    Co-applicants: Singh, Manish Kumar (University of Minnesota); Sokhansanj, Shahab (Chemical and Biological Engineering)
    Trash is cash: Building resilient rural communities through localized production of critical commodities
  • PI: Chang, Stephanie (School of Community and Regional Planning)
    Co-PIs: Kajitani, Yoshio (Kagawa University); Watson, Maria (Texas A&M University)
    Co-applicants: Botha, Elsamari (University of Canterbury); de Ruiter, Marleen (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam); Malinen, Sanna (University of Canterbury); Roa-Henriquez, Alfredo (North Dakota State); Walker, Bernard (University of Canterbury)
    Supporting business preparation for future shocks: International cases to understand how recovery programs can facilitate adaptation
  • PI: Kravchenko, Sergey (Materials Engineering)
    Co-PIs: Abdin, Yasmine (Materials Engineering); Arjmand, Mohammad (School of Engineering, UBCO); Huh, Tim (Sauder School of Business)
    Additive Manufacturing for Sustainable Supply Chain of Postpandemic
  • PI: Oliffe, John (Nursing, UBCV)
    Co-PI: Ogrodniczuk, John (Psychiatry)
    Co-applicants: Kealy, David (Psychiatry); Mootz, Jennifer (Columbia University); Rice, Simon (University of Melbourne); Seidler, Zac (University of Melbourne)
    Preventing male suicide through social connection and mutual help|
  • PI: Rush, Kathy (Nursing, UBCO)
    Co-PI: Li, Eric (Management, UBCO)
    Co-applicants: Ansermino, Mark (Anesthesiology, Pharmacology & Therapeutics); Behan, Justine (BC Children's Hospital); Dow-Fleisner, Sarah (School of Social Work, UBCO); Hasan, Mohammad (Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics and Statistics, UBCO); Hu, Min (Economics, Philosophy and Political Science, UBCO); Hutchinson, Peter (School of Population and Public Health); Manhas, Rajeev (Baba Farid University of Health Sciences); Yakong, Vida (University for Development Studies); Zajko, Mike (History and Sociology, UBCO)
    DIGITY: DIGital inclusion through social Innovation and TechnologY synergies in rural communities: A multi-disciplinary and multi-country collaboration


See all recipients and research summaries