Meet uOttawa’s new Canada Research Chairs

Research and Innovation
Research and innovation
Faculty of Arts
Faculty of Social Sciences
Telfer School of Management
Faculty of Science
Faculty of Medicine

By University of Ottawa

Office of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation, OVPRI

Joseph Moran, Giorgia Sulis, Julie Lee-Yaw, Giulia Fadda; second row, from left to right: Lori Beaman, Daniel Myran, Christopher Sun and Isabelle Salle
First row, from left to right: Joseph Moran, Giorgia Sulis, Julie Lee-Yaw, Giulia Fadda; second row, from left to right: Lori Beaman, Daniel Myran, Christopher Sun and Isabelle Salle.
The University of Ottawa continues its trailblazing research enterprise with the appointment of seven new Canada Research Chairs (CRCs) and the renewal of one.

These chairs will support critical investigations in various fields, including the fundamental chemical processes of life, the intricacies of healthcare, the evolution of religious diversity, the impact of climate change on the distribution of wildlife and the complexities of macroeconomic policy.

“Once again, uOttawa researchers are gearing up to disrupt the status-quo,” comments Sylvain Charbonneau, vice president, research and innovation. “From deciphering the mysteries of life's chemical origins to reimagining the healthcare system and enhancing public policy transparency, they're not just pushing boundaries they're breaking them.”

Joseph Moran, Faculty of Science

Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Systems Chemistry

This research aims to unravel the complex chemical reactions that underpin life. While we’ve made strides in understanding how a metabolism operates, its underlying logic and origins remain a mystery.

Accompanied by JELF funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Professor Moran’s work will attempt to recreate these chemical networks without enzymes — the proteins that speed up reactions — to learn how and why life’s biochemistry emerged.

This endeavour isn’t only a scientific pursuit; it also holds promise for eco-friendly technologies, as these reactions occur in water and recycle waste. In the long run, it could revolutionize medicine and human health.

Lori Beaman, Faculty of Arts

Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Religious Diversity and Social Change (renewal)

Professor Beaman’s research explores the relationship between “non-religion” and a range of social institutions, including law, health and education. 

Guided by the question of coexistence in diverse societies, the program has five key objectives: understanding non-religion as an identity and its effects on diversity; analyzing non-religion as a social force; examining non-religion’s discourse; mapping intersections between non-religion and religion; and using this knowledge to inform policy.

The program investigates how non-religion influences interactions across different social sectors, shedding light on co-operation, conflict and negotiation between religious and non-religious groups.

Isabelle Salle, Faculty of Social Sciences

Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Macroeconomics

Professor Salle’s research has a dual focus: understanding individuals’ perceptions of future economic conditions and their resulting economic decisions, and enhancing public comprehension of macroeconomic policy, which is essential to improve their effectiveness.

Focusing primarily on monetary policy, this research program designs and tests educational information content by using a variety of approaches, such as randomized controlled trials, population surveys and laboratory studies. It aims to identify groups excluded from traditional information channels and create targeted communication strategies for enhancing macroeconomic policy transparency and understanding.

Ultimately, Professor Salle’s research seeks to collaborate with policymakers to develop effective, inclusive communication tools that enhance governance and foster public trust in institutions.

Christopher Sun, Telfer School of Management and the University of Ottawa Heart Institute

Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Data Analytics for Health Systems Transformation

Despite Canada’s substantial health-care spending, its health-care system faces considerable challenges. In comparison to other high-income countries, Canada lags in access, efficiency, equity and outcomes.

Professor Sun’s research program aims to reinvigorate health care using advanced analytics and artificial intelligence (AI). The program addresses health-care worker shortages by enhancing system efficiency, and health-care inequity and mistrust, by creating fair AI decision support models. Both are critical issues.

With vital support from uOttawa’s Telfer School of Management and the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, this initiative will develop innovative tools in areas including operating room management, emergency event prediction and prevention, and diagnostic support.

Giorgia Sulis, Faculty of Medicine and Ottawa Hospital Research Institute

Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Communicable Diseases Epidemiology

Professor Sulis’s research is dedicated to improving health for vulnerable communities through four key areas. First, she aims to enhance antibiotic use in resource-limited regions, particularly in primary care, by introducing sustainable tools to reduce antibiotic prescriptions.

Second, she will investigate the risk of tuberculosis in individuals whose characteristics potentially increase their likelihood of experiencing the disease and/or suffering from more severe tuberculosis outcomes. Through her ongoing work of evaluating adult vaccination uptake, she hopes to achieve her third goal of addressing vaccine hesitancy.

Lastly, her program will aim to minimize and better evaluate the risk of bias in infectious disease research.

Julie Lee-Yaw, Faculty of Science

Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Global Change Ecology and Macroecology

Professor Lee-Yaw investigates wildlife distributions to predict how species respond to environmental change. She uses advanced techniques, including habitat modelling and genomics, to understand how climate and other factors affect where species live and the formation of geographic range limits.

Additionally, her research looks at how extreme climatic events, including wildfires, affect wildlife populations. Overall, this work provides insights into broader patterns of biodiversity, especially in Canada, where species are moving poleward due to climate change and where large areas have been affected by extreme events in recent years.

Finally, Dr. Lee-Yaw collaborates with different conservation partners to fill gaps in our understanding of the distributions of at-risk species and to inform conservation activities aimed at protecting sensitive populations. Professor Lee-Yaw will also receive JELF funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation to pursue her work.

Daniel Myran, Faculty of Medicine and Ottawa Hospital Research Institute

Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Social Accountability

The core mission of this research is to uncover the devastating health consequences of substance use, particularly how it worsens health disparities, and to devise evidence-based solutions to mitigate these harms. This includes an in-depth examination of the health impact of alcohol and drug policy in Canada.

Dr. Myran also plans to develop strategies to tackle the pressing issue of primary care shortages by employing cutting-edge quantitative methods and fostering collaboration with affected communities, patients, health-care providers and government bodies.

Giulia Fadda, Faculty of Medicine and Ottawa Hospital Research Institute

Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Inflammation, Infection and Immunity

Demyelinating syndromes, such as multiple sclerosis, are chronic conditions causing significant disability, especially in young adults. Current treatments focus on preventing clinical attacks, but many patients experience progressive neurological worsening without known solutions.

Dr. Fadda’s research investigates the mechanisms behind this progressive brain injury, particularly the role of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which surrounds and protects the brain and the spinal cord.

By studying brain-CSF boundary abnormalities using advanced MRI and their connection to symptoms, this program aims to identify new markers for early disease prediction, severity assessment and treatment guidance. These markers could also help evaluate novel therapies, potentially enhancing the quality of life for those affected.