U of G Prof Named Among Elite CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars

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Professor in lab coat inside his laboratory

Prof. Wei Zhang, Molecular and Cellular Biology

Prof. Wei Zhang, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, is among 14 international researchers named Canadian Institute for Applied Research (CIFAR) Azrieli Global Scholars for 2019-21.

The CIFAR program provides $100,000 over two years to early-career scholars who are considered potential research leaders.

Zhang plans to invest the funding in state-of-the-art laboratory infrastructure to develop proteins for fighting cancer and other diseases.

“My research is looking at creating new synthetic molecules based on the knowledge of interactions between different proteins, specifically to create something that can effectively disrupt or enhance this interaction with unprecedented precision,” said the U of G researcher, who was chosen from among 217 applicants from 37 countries. “In this way, we can understand how biological processes are initiated and develop new therapeutics.”

Zhang was among three international scholars selected in CIFAR’s Molecular Architecture of Life program, which is one of five Azrieli Global Scholars research programs run by the institute.

“I’m humbled and honoured to be inducted into the CIFAR Azrieli Global Program,” he said. “I know that the program is very competitive. There were just so many good candidates, so I was a bit surprised.”

He said the mentorship to be offered under the program will help guide his own research career. “When you start managing people and deciding on what independent research to pursue, you need that focused, precise guidance from senior researchers.”

U of G engineering professor Graham Taylor was chosen as a CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar for 2016-18 in the Learning in Machines and Brains program.

The global scholars program is funded by the Azrieli Foundation and the Love Family Leadership Development Funds, and by other individuals, corporations and foundations.