On February 22, the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) announced $195,000 in funding for two important projects at Carleton University through their John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF). The projects will investigate aspects of health-related chronic disease fibrosis, and securing electrical grids against cyber attacks and weather-related damage.

Prof. Leila Mostaço-Guidolin, Assistant Professor in the Department of Systems and Computer Engineering will receive funding to continue with the establishment of the Tissue Engineering & Applied Materials (TEAM) Hub.

There is an urgent need for regenerative medical technologies to treat chronic diseases such as liver cirrhosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and certain types of cancer. Chronic diseases are currently the leading cause of death worldwide, but there are still no meaningful therapeutic strategies for treating one of the major complications: fibrosis.

Healthy tissues have a network of protein fibers that repair themselves effectively by the formation of scars. Although this is a beneficial process of repairing tissues, in most chronic diseases fibrosis is an exaggerated wound-healing response that results in the buildup of collagen and impedes normal organ function.

The lack of human disease models is invariably a bottleneck to progress in health research. The benefits of well-characterized disease-relevant human cells and tissue models in the study of complex fibrotic diseases are enormous. The funding will help establish the Tissue Engineering & Applied Materials (TEAM) Hub which will develop 3D models that capture the complexity of cell micro-environments and identify novel biological mechanisms underlying fibrotic processes.

The Hub will train highly qualified personnel in the fields of biomedical engineering, medicine, pharmacy and image analysis. This research will help address the urgent unmet clinical needs by yielding new therapeutic targets to treat this common, yet debilitating and deadly condition.

Prof. Shichao Liu, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electronics and IEEE Senior Member, will receive funding to support his critical infrastructure project titled, Artificial Intelligence Enhanced Resilience-Oriented Energy Management and Control for Cyber-Physical Microgrids.

Both natural disasters and cyberattacks are becoming leading factors for the increase of power outages in Canada and worldwide, causing significant socio-economic losses in many sectors and threatening the day-to-day lives of thousands or millions of residents.

Liu’s research inquiry constitutes a unique, yet synergistic opportunity to improve the preparedness and resilience of Canadian electrical power systems against natural disasters and cyberattacks from a cyber-physical system viewpoint that exploits emerging machine-learning and deep reinforcement learning techniques.

The first research theme is to develop resilience-oriented dynamic microgrid energy management approaches to improve the preparedness and survivability of microgrids against natural disasters.

The other research theme is to enhance the resilience of microgrid control systems which are critical in the realization of the microgrid dynamic energy management system proposed in the first theme against cyberattacks. The required real-time cyber-physical microgrid co-simulation testbed is essential for quantitively assessing the impacts of natural disasters and cyberattacks on microgrids, developing resilience-oriented microgrid operation and control schemes, and designing reinforcement learning-based mitigations. Training the next generation will contribute to the smart grid cybersecurity industry’s technical leadership renewal in Canada.

About the CFI’s JELF Program
Funding provided through JELF helps institutions attract and retain outstanding researchers. It also contributes to acquiring the tools that enable the innovative work of those researchers, and offers research infrastructure that, when combined with support from partner organizations, creates a highly competitive package for attracting talent.

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