U of A health researchers awarded $4.8 million in innovation funding


The University of Alberta has been awarded a total of $4.8 million for 23 health research projects through the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

Mahdi Tavakoli, who directs the Telerobotic and Biorobotic Systems Group at the U of A, has received $130,695 for his research focused on the use of mobile robotics for continuity of health-care service delivery during and following COVID-19.

"Access to and delivery of health care as an essential service must be enhanced to better deal with COVID-19 and other future pandemics," Tavakoli told Taproot.

"Advances in robotics and artificial intelligence hold the key to the robust delivery of health-care services to allow for continuous access to health care while minimizing the risk of transmission of infectious diseases," he said. "Any further experience we gain with doing robot-assisted patient evaluation, assistance, and imaging in clinics, health-care facilities, long-term care homes, and patient homes will be useful not just during the COVID-19 pandemic but also during future pandemics."

Tavakoli said the funding would help to demonstrate the practical benefits of using robots in health care. He hopes his research will enhance "both the capacity and the resilience of the Canadian health-care system."

Dr. Mahdi Tavakoli

Dr. Mahdi Tavakoli is among 23 researchers at the University of Alberta who received a total of $4.8M in federal funding. (Courtesy of folio)

Other recipients include nutrition researcher Catherine Field and genetics professor Anna Phan.

Field received $419,544 for research to explore the impact of diet on immunity.

"Immunology is in the centre of virtually every chronic disease," Field said in an interview with Folio.

Phan received $400,326 for research to identify and study the genetic limitations of memory.

"Studying genes that limit memory processes and learning how to manipulate these constraints may lead to new strategies to treat developmental or degenerative nervous system disorders such as dementia," Phan's Lab said in a statement.