Of Mines and Minds: New Industrial Research Chairs Making Canadian Business More Competitive

Two Western University researchers have partnered with companies in the mining and medical device sectors to help make them more competitive. It’s a move that comes with assistance from a federal program that pairs academic expertise with industry needs.

Science professors Neil Banerjee and Blaine Chronik have both been named Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Industrial Research Chairs to support partnerships with Yamana Gold and Synaptive Medical, respectively.

Banerjee is helping characterize gold deposits in the Kirkland Lake mining camp, while providing a better understanding of how they came to form there. At the same time, he is applying new, cutting-edge analytical techniques and technologies that allow Yamana Gold to more efficiently and responsibly search for minerals. It’s groundbreaking work in the truest sense.

Although the mining industry employs approximately 400,000 Canadians and generates billions of dollars for the economy annually, new mineral discoveries are declining and becoming more expensive. With a better understanding of key factors that lead to gold mineralization, Banerjee hopes to be able to better anticipate where gold might be found and to improve exploration success.

“The face of mineral exploration and mining in Canada, and around the world, is changing at a rapid rate,” says Banerjee, who was named the NSERC/Yamana Gold Inc. Industrial Research Chair in Advanced Mineral Exploration. “Technology needs the power of science to be successful in mining.”

Meanwhile, Chronik is working with Toronto-based Synaptive Medical to develop highly customized MRI systems that have been optimized for specific applications like stroke. Health-care providers currently use multi-use, full-body scanners to diagnose any number of ailments, but one of Chronik’s objectives as NSERC/Synaptive Medical Inc. Industrial Research Chair in Magnetic Resonance Systems Development is to become the first Canadian team able to design, prototype and produce custom MRI platforms.

Their efforts will create smaller, lighter, cheaper and easier-to-use MR systems that still produce high-performance results.

“These qualities are essential to bringing the benefits of MRI to health-care settings where the technology has been unavailable or underutilized,” Chronik says. “Our program aims to improve healthcare for Canadians by facilitating the development of safer, more advanced medical devices for use within safer, more advanced MRI systems.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Stephen Ledgley, Senior Media Relations Officer, Western University: 519-661-2111 ext. 85283, sledgley@uwo.ca


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