The CLS synchrotron as seen from a crane above.
The Canadian Light Source synchrotron. 

The Canadian Light Source (CLS) at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) has been awarded $76.9 million—a third of the total $230 million announced today by Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Navdeep Bains for 14 research facilities across Canada.

The synchrotron was awarded the funding through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) Major Science Initiatives Fund, which ensures Canada’s large, national research facilities have the support needed to operate and stay on the leading edge of research.

The CLS is undertaking important research to combat the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“This major federal investment will prove critical to Canada’s continued role at the cutting edge of global research and innovation,” said USask President Peter Stoicheff.

He added that the CFI’s funding commitment “enables us to address some of the biggest global challenges such as food security, climate change and infectious diseases including coronavirus, aligning with our goal to be the university the world needs.”

Michel is handling a sample amid a fog coming from liquid nitrogen.
Michel Fodje, Senior Scientist, prepares a sample for imaging at the CMCF beamline at the CLS.

As Canada’s only synchrotron light source and an invaluable tool for innovative science in advanced materials, agriculture, environment and health, the CLS was awarded $76.9 million in federal funding for operations and maintenance to the end of the 2023 fiscal year.

“These public funds will enable scientists from across the country and around the world to continue to protect the health of Canadians, increase crop production, strengthen roads, improve batteries and advance space exploration,” said CLS Executive Director and CEO Robert Lamb.

“We are also supporting the international effort to fight COVID-19 with the most advanced research tools Canada has to offer.”

Universities and private industry users of “Canada’s brightest light” are studying aspects of the virus’s structure to develop therapeutics that could halt the virus’s replication machinery and the spread of the infection in the body or prevent it from entering human cells to begin an infection, he said.

Blue and white light shine on metallic equipment and form a spotlight in the sample holding section.
Feizhou He, Material and Chemical Sciences Manager, views scientific equipment at the CLS. 

CLS COVID-19-related research is focused on three main areas:

Additional funding for other USask research facilities

Earlier this spring, the federal government announced $11.3 million from the same round of CFI funding for USask’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization—International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac), a world leader in developing vaccines and technologies against infectious diseases.

VIDO-InterVac is on the front lines of combatting the global pandemic. Scientists are working on a vaccine against COVID-19 that has proven highly effective in ferrets, one of the animal models VIDO-InterVac developed for COVID-19 testing. With one of the world’s largest and most advanced Level 3 high-containment facilities, VIDO-InterVac was the first lab in Canada to isolate SARS-CoV-2 and the first in the country to establish an animal model for testing vaccines, antivirals and therapeutics. 

“The current coronavirus outbreak highlights why our containment Level 3 facility was built,” said VIDO-InterVac Director Volker Gerdts.

“This special infrastructure enables Canadian scientists to work on diseases with high impact, such as COVID-19 and TB in humans or African Swine Fever in animals. VIDO-InterVac is part of the national and global response to such emerging disease threats.”

Minister Bains has also announced an additional funding from MSI for USask’s SuperDARN (Super Dual Auroral Radar Network).

SuperDARN is a global network of scientific radars monitoring conditions in the near-Earth space environment. Their organization received a budget increase and a sixth year of operating funding, supporting it to the end of the 2023 fiscal year with $549,782.

USask physicist Kathryn McWilliams, director of SuperDARN and chair of the international SuperDARN Collaboration, said the investment in SuperDARN helps position Canada as a global leader in monitoring space weather conditions and helps improve national security through radar monitoring.

“Because Canada is one of the countries most vulnerable to space weather effects, such as the geomagnetic storm that caused the 1989 Quebec Hydro blackout, Canadian SuperDARN data and expertise are essential to mitigating damaging space weather effects on vital infrastructure such as pipelines and power grids, as well as to satellite navigation and radio communications,” she said.

More information about Canada’s major research facilities awarded MSI funding is available here.

Click here for more images of the CLS. 

For more information, contact:

Victoria Schramm
Communications Coordinator
Canadian Light Source

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