Today, Research Manitoba announces a total investment of $549,987 over two years in research funding to support five new Innovation Proof-of-Concept (IPoC) Grants.

The IPoC Grant strengthens a diverse range of Manitoba industries by bridging the funding gap between research projects’ concept and production through supporting activities directly related to process validation and proof-of-concept research.


Find out more about the projects and researchers below:



Recipients for Stream 1: Manitoba-Based Consortium


Name: Dr. Donald Miller
Institution: University of Manitoba, Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics (Medicine)
Industry Partner: Biomark Diagnostics
Industry Contact: Rashid Bux
Funding Pillar: Bioscience/Health – Basic Biomedical
Funding Amount: $75,000 per year for 2 years
Project Title: Examination of lipid nanoparticle loaded hydrogels for localized silencing of spermidine/spermine acetyl transferase-1 (SAT1) expression in tumor and enhanced radiation and chemotherapy response.
Abstract: Radiation therapy is an important part of cancer treatment. However, many tumor cells have the ability to survive radiation exposure resulting in a reduced overall effectiveness and increased risk of treatment failure. Spermidine/spermine acetyl transferase-1 (SAT1) is a cellular enzyme over-expressed in many cancers including brain, lung and breast. We have identified a way to knock-down levels of SAT1 in cells using small nano-sized particles carrying an RNA-based compound that interferes with the production of SAT1. Treatment of glioblastoma tumor cells with these nanoparticles enhanced the killing action of radiation. As the sensitizing effects of the nanoparticles were not observed in normal cells, we believe this approach can be developed into safe and effective method for sensitizing tumor to radiation exposure. The proposed proof-of-concept studies involve the development and testing of an injectable drug delivery platform (which we are calling RestorTM) for localized and sustained delivery of SAT1-targeted nanoparticles to improve and restore radiation responses in a variety of cancers including brain, lung, and breast. Completion of studies will provide necessary proof-of-concept for the effectiveness of RestorTM as a localized radiation sensitizing agent for improved treatment of cancers.

Recipients for Stream 2: Manitoba Post-Secondary Researchers

Name: Dr. Pooneh Maghoul
Institution: University of Manitoba, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Civil Engineering
Funding Pillar: Advanced Manufacturing/Natural Sciences and Engineering
Funding Amount: $50,000 per year for 2 years
Project Title: Bio-inspired subsurface robotic system for space exploration
Abstract: In this Innovation Proof-of-Concept grant, we will apply an interdisciplinary approach to develop a bio-inspired vibro-based robotic system for space mining and subsurface investigation of inaccessible areas on Earth. The existing typical subsurface investigation tools, such as rotatory or percussive drilling techniques (cone penetration test, pressuremeter test, and so on) are not applicable for space subsurface exploration. Traditional drilling equipment are heavy and difficult for operation. The cost of bringing approximately 1 kg of materials to the lunar surface is about $1M. The bio-inspired vibro-based robotic system proposed in this project will be compact and light-weight to meet the space operation requirements. The system will be equipped with a series of desired sensors required for space mining as well as subsurface condition monitoring on Earth. Novel bio-inspired mechanics for penetration driven by smart materials will be studied and tested. Ultrasonic vibration utilization will be introduced to reduce the required penetration force so as to accomplish more efficient penetration with a compact design of the probe. The portable design will make the sub-surface investigation much more convenient with lower costs.


Name: Dr. Song Liu
Institution: University of Manitoba, Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences, Department of Biosystems Engineering
Funding Pillar: Infrastructure and Transportation Industries and Technology/Natural Sciences and Engineering
Funding Amount: $49,987 for year 1 and $50,000 for year 2
Project Title: Innovative Rechargeable Antimicrobial Coating for Minimized Pipe Corrosion and Discharging of Toxic Disinfectants
Abstract: Industrial fouling and microbiologically influenced corrosion are a serious issue in many industry segments such as Power, Food, Pulp & Paper, Chemical Processing, and Steel. The combined use of an array of chemical disinfectants such as chlorine and glutaraldehyde at high concentrations can mitigate the fouling and corrosion issue to a certain degree. However, this brings about another environmental problem: residual toxicity of the effluents. I proposed to develop a rechargeable potent antimicrobial coating for steel pipelines and water tanks. This new antimicrobial coating can be recharged by the existing chlorine in the circulating water and would inactivate a wide spectrum of bacteria and fungi, preventing formation of hard-to-remove biofilm on water contact surfaces in industrial water facilities. This new antimicrobial coating is expected to extend the life of capital asset through reduced microbiologically influenced corrosion, increase equipment utilization through less cleaning and maintenance downtime, and improve heat exchanger efficiency between maintenance shutdowns.


Name: Dr. Ayesha Saleem
Institution: University of Manitoba, Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management
Funding Pillar: Bioscience/Health – Basic Biomedical
Funding Amount: $50,000 per year for 2 years
Project Title: Development of fetal extracellular vesicles as diagnostic markers of genetic diseases
Abstract: The process of cell-to-cell communication is facilitated by small bubbles of material called extracellular vesicles (EVs). Released from all cells, think of EVs as emails. Just like an email can have text or audio, EVs can hold different combinations of biochemical cargo, that can change depending on the cell of origin, physiological conditions, & recipient cell. Several studies have explored the mechanisms of EV synthesis and release, and catalogued the rich cargo encapsulated within. Interestingly, EVs have been shown to transverse physiological barriers such as the blood-brain barrier. If EVs can cross the rather impregnable blood-brain barrier, it is likely that they can also cross the placental barrier. This positions them as ideal candidates for mediating communication between fetus and mother. This project is designed to investigate whether EVs form the main biological communication link between mother and fetus and if they can be used to diagnose a genetic disease during pregnancy. The results will advance basic science knowledge, and lead to the development of blood-based diagnostic markers that can be used to identify fetal abnormalities in a timely and safe manner. Early diagnosis can help prognosis and facilitate improved health outcomes for mother and child.

Name: Professor Zahra Moussavi
Institution: University of Manitoba, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Funding Pillar: Bioscience/Natural Science and Engineering
Funding Amount: $50,000 per year for 2 years
Project Title: Development of an aero-acoustic model of the upper airway for predicting obstructive sleep apnea and upper airway collapsibility during wakefulness
Abstract: Using advanced signal processing and modeling techniques and instrumentation, this research project will investigate, design, develop and evaluate novel technologies applicable to respiratory system and its associated disorders, in particular obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA currently affects more than 10% of Canadians, but it is also believed that there are many undiagnosed cases. Lack of diagnosis and treatment of OSA impose an immense physical and economic burden on society.

The goal of this research is to develop an aero-acoustic model of the respiratory tract to not only predict the severity of OSA by a few minutes breathing test during wakefulness, but also potentially identify the regional patency of the airway collapse. Outcomes of this research are: a) a realistic and accurate model of upper airway mechanism in healthy and those with OSA, and how it will change due to an obstruction when one sleeps, and b) to develop non-invasive, cost effective and quick diagnostic tools used during wakefulness that will lead to a better individualized treatment strategy for OSA population. The proposed technologies have potentials to improve the quality of life of the large population affected by OSA.



 Freyja Arnason, Director, Strategy and Programs, Research Manitoba
204-942-1948 | |



Research Manitoba:

Research Manitoba promotes, supports, and coordinates the funding of research excellence and innovation in health, natural and social sciences, engineering, and the humanities in Manitoba. Research Manitoba supports local talent development by providing research support to early career researchers and graduate students, along with fostering strategic partnerships to strengthen research and innovation in Manitoba.