The University of Guelph will receive nearly $2 million over five years from Industry Canada through renewal of two prestigious Canada Research Chairs (CRC).

A Tier 1 chair in molecular microbiology held by Prof. Chris Whitfield, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, was renewed for the second time. Whitfield was one of Guelph’s first five CRCs named in 2001; his chair was renewed in 2008. Tier 1 chairs are acknowledged as international leaders in their fields and are awarded $200,000 a year for seven years.

A Tier 2 chair in risk management and regulation held by economics professor Rene Kirkegaard was also renewed. Tier 2 chairholders are considered to be potential world leaders in their fields and receive $100,000 a year for five years.

“Prof. Whitfield’s work as a CRC over the past 14 years has placed Guelph at the forefront in finding new therapies against bacterial infections, and this second CRC renewal is a testament to his scientific leadership,” said John Livernois, interim vice-president (research).

“Prof. Kirkegaard continues to break new ground in studying the growing significance of contests and auctions, especially online. We are pleased that this further investment through CRC renewals will allow both professors to continue to make significant research contributions.”

Whitfield heads a multimillion-dollar facility for studying how molecules move in and out of disease-causing bacteria.

Kirkegaard studies behaviour during online contests and auctions such as eBay to help improve regulations.

Begun in 2000, the CRC program helps Canadian universities attract and retain faculty. The latest round of funding was announced by Ed Holder, minister of state (science and technology), April 9. The $139 million investment, with an additional $7.6 million in infrastructure support provided by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), supports 150 new and renewed CRCs at 36 postsecondary institutions across the country.

The CRC program is overseen by the minister of state (science and technology) and governed by a steering committee consisting of the presidents of CFI, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.