The Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) has announced that chemistry professor, Dr. Nicoletta Faraone, has been awarded $251,030 through the John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF) toward a $696,240 project to create a Tick Chemosensory System Station at Acadia University. This critical infrastructure funding has been matched by Research Nova Scotia ($251,030) to support innovative research into repellent products that protect Canadians from tick bites and tick-borne diseases.
Ticks vector the widest array of disease-causing organisms of all hematophagous arthropods and can transmit disease agents of importance to human and veterinary health. The spread of blacklegged ticks (I. scapularis), and high incidence of Lyme disease cases reported in the past 5 years, has dramatically raised public awareness. This is a particular problem in Atlantic Canada, as provinces such as Nova Scotia have the highest ratio of ticks to people in the country.
The Tick Chemosensory System Station supports Dr. Faraone’s goal of exposing the dynamics behind human/animal-tick interactions by linking the neurophysiological response elicited by chemical cues with the corresponding induced and observed behaviour in ticks. The equipment will also optimize and channel information about mechanisms of chemical cue perception in ticks into the development of innovative technologies and formulations to prevent tick bites and thus infections in humans and animals.
Dr Faraone’s award is part of a $64 million investment by Ottawa to support research infrastructure projects at 40 universities across the country. The JELF program helps universities such as Acadia recruit and retain outstanding researchers, and provides the state-of-the-art labs, equipment and facilities that are needed to educate students, train HQP, and make discoveries that will have an impact on Canadians.
Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry François-Philippe Champagne notes that the JELF Fund strengthens the country’s “leadership and competitive advantage,” and that is certainly true for Acadia. “The university is grateful for this program of equipment and infrastructure support,” notes Acadia’s Associate Vice-President of Research Dr. Anna Redden, “the JELF Fund has been critical for research innovation and training, and for Acadia’s research impact at regional, national and international levels.”