Academic excellence profiled again at Trinity Western University as Professor Eve Stringham is awarded a $500,000 Canada Research Chair in Developmental Genetics and Disease.

Eve Stringham, PhD. Associate Professor of Biology at Trinity Western University, is using the soil nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (worm) to understand how genes control nervous system and muscle development, as well as growth and ageing. Her research is paying off. Stringham was recently approved for a $500,000 Tier 2 Canada Research Chair (CRC) sponsored by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

The Honourable Maxime Bernier, minister of Industry and minister responsible for the Canada Research Chairs Program says, “The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of investing in university research. This investment will enable our universities to develop the expertise and innovative ideas that fuel economic competitiveness and create new jobs for Canadians.”

Stringham is no stranger to award-winning research. She has won several NSERC grants and has been a leader in C. elegans research, identifying a set of genes that are responsible for linking external signaling cues to rearrangements in the shape, growth and migration of nerve and muscle cells in the worm. Several of the corresponding human genes are mutated in some types of cancer and neurodegenerative disorders, demonstrating the relevance of animal models in understanding human diseases. Stringham is also studying how insulin-like signalling controls the cell's response to stress and aging. This is the third CRC award Trinity Western University has been granted and the first one in the Faculty of Natural and Applied Sciences. Jack Van Dyke, PhD. Dean of the Faculty says, “We extremely grateful for this award and very proud of the achievements of Dr. Stringham in bringing this award to our campus. This will be a start to very important research carried out by Dr. Stringham and her colleagues."
With the support of the Canada Research Chair in Developmental Genetics and Disease, the research that Stringham and her team are pursuing is timely and life changing. As the population ages, the incidence of chronic and life threatening illnesses such as diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer's are on the rise. A common feature of these diseases is that they are characterized at the molecular level by defects in cell signaling pathways, resulting in abnormal cell behaviour. So by enhancing our understanding of these diseases at the cellular level, novel targets for therapeutic intervention may be discovered.

Along with innovative research, plans to renovate the Biology Department are also in the works. A separate $125,000 grant from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation is allowing the department to create a High Resolution Microscopy and Live Imaging Laboratory, the only facility of its kind in the Fraser Valley. This microscope and imaging system will be critical for specialized applications that require sensitive detection, time-lapse imaging and high resolution.

The CRC award gives Stringham and her team the opportunity to focus on developing an even stronger program. Not only will students continue to study small organisms as well developed models that mirror human functions, but they'll also be integrally involved in faculty research projects getting superior knowledge on the rapidly increasing biotechnology industry.

Says Stringham, “I think this is so important for recognizing the work being done in the sciences here at TWU. When people in the past heard 'Trinity Western Uniiversity' they didn't always register the strength of our research and programs in the sciences. Now when they hear about Trinity Western University they'll know we have award-winning and innovative research taking place here right on our campus, continuing our legacy of excellence.”

Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a not-for-profit Christian liberal arts and sciences university enrolling approximately 4000 students. TWU offers undergraduate degrees in 39 major areas of study ranging from business, communications and education to biotechnology and nursing, and offers 15 graduate degrees in such areas as counseling psychology, business, the humanities, theology and administrative leadership.

Last Updated: 2007-10-11
Author: Erin Mussolum