Burgeoning research partnerships key factor in driving ULethbridge Research InfoSource ranking

A continued focus on strengthening research partnerships and strong performance in federal grant agency support are at the heart of the University of Lethbridge’s 2022 Research Infosource rankings that sees ULethbridge among Canada’s Top 50 Research Universities.

The annual ranking report, released today by Research Infosource Ltd., identifies the country’s top research universities in relation to research income. ULethbridge once again finds itself among the top 50 of all universities in Canada, spurred by a second-place ranking amongst all undergraduate universities in the growth of research income as it relates to industry partnerships.

“The partnerships we have forged in recent years highlight the fact our researchers are helping solve important issues facing small and big businesses, industrial partners, agri-food, tech and many other sectors,” says Dr. Dena McMartin, ULethbridge’s vice-president (research). “We have long excelled in fundamental research, something that continues to earn strong support from our federal granting partners, and more recently garnered the attention of valuable partners who recognize our researchers have answers to issues they need addressed.”

Recent examples include Dr. Michele Konschuh’s work supported by Results Driven Agriculture Research (RDAR) and potato industry stakeholders. Konschuh, working out of the Department of Biological Sciences, is seeking to understand and mitigate the appearance of blackleg of potato, which can reduce yields by 20 to 25 per cent.

“This is a nearly $1-billion industry in Alberta and is vital to our provincial economy,” says McMartin. “The work of Michele and her team, which includes graduate and undergraduate students, is essential for the agri-food industry and also trains our students for future careers in this field — a further positive impact for society.”

Dr. Robert Sutherland, left, and researchers are pushing Parkinson's disease research forward through a new industry partnership.

Likewise, researchers in the Canadian Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience have struck a partnership with Gb Sciences, Inc., a leading plant-inspired biopharmaceutical research and development company, completing a dose range study of Gb Sciences’ patent-protected formulations in a rodent model of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Gb Sciences uses cannabinoid-containing therapeutic mixtures for the treatment of PD.

“Gb Sciences is an international company that has recognized the expertise and state-of-the-art methods Dr. Robert Sutherland and his group utilize,” says McMartin. “The partnership enhances the work they are doing in CCBN, offers our researchers exceptional opportunities and pushes PD research forward in the quest to develop these new therapeutics.”

In addition to placing second in Corporate Research Income Growth, ULethbridge also had fourth place standings in the undergraduate tier rankings for research income via the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). A fifth-place standing in research intensity dollars per graduate student also stood out as the university placed 10th overall in University Research Income amongst all Canadian undergraduate schools.

“Throughout the university there is a dedication to excellence and innovation, as well as a commitment to creating a research environment that provides unparalleled access to both undergraduate and graduate students,” adds McMartin. “Funding support is just one measure of how successful our faculty and their research teams are, and these rankings capture a snapshot of this. A better measure is the impact our research makes on society and the lives that are changed for the better because of the work we are doing.