University of Alberta research is helping advance knowledge, improve our
world, and shape the future.
Science and technology
A new Medical Isotope and Cyclotron Facility will revolutionize how medical
isotopes are manufactured and establish the U of A as a centre of excellence
in medical cyclotron research. The facility will produce a safe, reliable supply of
isotopes used in 80 per cent of nuclear medicine diagnostic procedures.
Using nanotechnology, researchers created a portable lab-on-a-chip device
that can perform the same genetic tests as most fully equipped labs, in less
time. Dubbed “the Domino,” the affordable instrument can perform 20 tests at
once from a drop of blood to detect blood-borne diseases like malaria.
By successfully harnessing the Barkhausen effect, U of A physics researchers,
including two graduate students, solved a mystery that eluded scientists for 100
years. The discovery paves the way for crash-proof computer data storage.
U of A paleontology research on fossils in China led to a string of discoveries about
feathered dinosaurs, including new evidence that they used their feathers in
mating rituals—findings that reveal links between dinosaurs and animals alive today.
Health and wellness
A team led by virologist Michael Houghton proved a vaccine developed from one
strain of the hepatitis C virus can be effective against all known strains—a
major step in developing a commercial vaccine to prevent future
hepatitis C infections.
In late 1921 and early 1922 biochemistry professor and alumnus James Collip
played a key role in discovering insulin.
He refined the crude pancreatic extract
obtained by Frederick Banting, Charles Best, and John Macleod so it could be used
in humans. Eighty years later, the Edmonton Protocol
islet cell transplant
method developed at the U of A has improved the lives of many Type 1 diabetics.
Through the Water Initiative, multidisciplinary research teams are tackling a host
of water challenges linked to energy, food supply, ecosystem health, and
public health. Integrating social, economic, legal, and cultural research expertise
across the academy, U of A water research increasingly influences legislation,
social structures, and policy development.
The U of A is leading the development of water quality, monitoring, treatment,
and transport technologies for IC-IMPACTS, a five-year, $30-million Canada-India
research collaboration with the universities of British Columbia and Toronto. Part
of the Canadian government’s Networks of Centres of Excellence program,
IC-IMPACTS brings together researchers and industry innovators to develop
technologies to ensure health, safety, and sustainability for remote
and rural communities.
As one of the world’s northernmost research universities, the U of A develops
and measures past records of climate change, monitors how glaciers and
permafrost respond to environmental change today, and engages northern
communities in collaborative research on the social, cultural, and
economic impact of these developments.
Arts and culture
The U of A is a leader in digital and social science humanities. Using
intelligent text analysis and data mining techniques on digital repositories of
land-use treaties, court cases, and other historic data, researchers reveal
insights on original interpretation and intent that inform legal opinion and
policy development today. The university’s English and East Asian studies
departments each rank second in Canada for research output.
The U of A’s Kule Institute for Advanced Study conducts and supports
socially engaged, interdisciplinary research by humanities, social
sciences, and fine arts scholars. Areas of study include ethical stewardship of
the planet and cultural expression in the age of advanced technologies.
Food and agriculture
U of A researchers developed a better test for E. coli that is faster, more
sensitive, and less expensive than current tests. The new test can be used at food
processing facilities, thus preventing E. coli infections from entering the food chain.
An agricultural research program produced two new varieties of top-quality
wheat that mature early and are disease-resistant, a boon to prairie farmers.
Energy and the environment
More than 1,000 U of A researchers collaborate on the oilsands and its
environmental impact, looking at everything from carbon-capture
sequestration and deep geothermal energy to emission reduction, tailings-pond
reclamation, and water conservation. The Alberta School of Business is a
global leader in resource economics.
U of A land reclamation researchers established the optimal mix of organic
materials to regenerate diverse plant life existing before land is disturbed by
agricultural or resource-extraction activities. This research informs provincial
policy on land development, reclamation, and restoration standards.