Canada’s research community collaborates to expand the use of powerful software tools for use across disciplines
CANARIE, a vital component of Canada’s digital infrastructure supporting research, education and innovation, today announced the recipients of funding who will adapt their existing research platforms (also known as Science Gateways or Virtual Research Environments) so that they may be re-used by other research teams, including those working in different research disciplines.
Research platforms are complete software applications that support the entire research workflow (i.e. data collection, processing, visualization, storage) of a research project. Given the fact that the research workflow is similar across many projects, CANARIE has evolved its funding model to invest in software tools that accelerate discovery across multiple research teams. This funding call demonstrates the viability of this approach by supporting the evolution of software tools designed for one research team to support other teams, even if they are in different disciplines.
This research software funding is part of the Government of Canada’s $105 million investment supporting CANARIE’s activities during its 2015 – 2020 mandate, and is complementary to other research software funding programs such as the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s Cyberinfrastructure Initiative.
“This funding round stimulates the use of advanced software by a wide range of researchers, while promoting software re-use to minimize the cost of development,” says Scott Henwood, Director, Research Software at CANARIE. “Software re-use lets research grants be used for the research itself, rather than for duplicated efforts in software development. Efficient use of research funding helps to position Canada at the forefront of science and discovery.”
The following research platforms have been funded to evolve their capabilities to support new teams of researchers:
- 3D Slicer; led by Dr. Gabor Fichtinger, Queen’s University
3D Slicer is an open-source platform that supports image analysis and visualization, primarily in biomedicine. Built over two decades by a global team of developers, it is the leading open-source platform in its domain. Since its last major release, researchers around the world have downloaded it over 300,000 times.
Software Evolution: The 3D Slicer platform will evolve to support image-guided therapy (IGT) through surgery, radiation, needle-based medical interventions, and more. The evolution of 3D Slicer is expected to speed up image translation from the laboratory to the operating room and, ultimately, to commercial products.
- Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory (CWRC) Extension; led by Dr. Susan Brown, University of Guelph
CWRC is designed to foster collaboration among individuals and research groups focused on the study of cultural artifacts. It combines computing hardware, software, and personnel to maintain a repository of over 250,000 digital texts, bibliographic records, and multimedia objects, together with a software toolkit that enables digital humanities research.
Software Evolution: CWRC will evolve to allow new research teams access to CWRC’s growing repository and software. Researchers in epigraphy, history, ethnography, linguistics, legal history, and library and information science will benefit from access to the rich resources and tools of the CWRC.
- Montage; led by Dr. Sohrab Shah, University of British Columbia
Montage software supports cancer research by analyzing the genome sequences of thousands of individual cancer cells within a tumour. This provides the ability to study a patient’s cancer as a population of individual cells – each of which can have unique mutations and therefore different molecular behaviour in response to treatment.
Software Evolution: Montage will encapsulate a number of already-existing software packages for cancer genomics analysis into a unified cloud-based web service for use by new research teams studying aggressive breast cancer tumours. It will enable researchers to interactively visualize and assess the genomes of individual tumour cells to gain new insights into treatment response.
- iEnvironment; led by Dr. Donald D. Cowan, University of Waterloo
iEnvironment software is used by environmental science and engineering researchers who need access to large amounts of environmental data in order to answer complex questions about surface water.
Software Evolution: iEnvironment will evolve to enable new users in geomorphology, hydraulic engineering, biology and environmental science to combine data from multiple sources to support new modes of discovery. This will support progress on a wide range of research initiatives, including climate change, natural storm management, biodiversity, water pollution prevention, and water level management.
- OpenPNM; led by Dr. Jeff Gostick, University of Waterloo
OpenPNM (Pore Network Modeling) is an open-source research platform that enables users to model how fluids move through a wide range of porous materials, including plants and bone tissues, paper, polymers, ice formations, and oil reservoirs.
Software Evolution: OpenPNM will evolve to support research in sustainable energy and greening the power grid by improving the technology that enables the transformation of excess gas from renewable sources into valuable, storable hydrogen gas.
In addition to funding the evolution of research platforms to serve more researchers, CANARIE’s Research Software Program adopts a highly efficient development model: new software draws from an existing toolkit of software, developed and contributed by other researchers. Funded participants in this Program pledge to add new software to the toolkit, resulting in significant process and cost efficiencies through a powerful cycle of software development and reuse. The full suite of research software is available at no cost to the worldwide research community at science.canarie.ca.
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CANARIE strengthens Canadian leadership in science and technology by delivering digital infrastructure to support world-class research that directly benefits all Canadians.
Thirteen provincial and territorial network partners, together with CANARIE, collectively form Canada’s National Research and Education Network (NREN). Canadians at universities, colleges, research institutes, hospitals, and government laboratories rely on this ultra high-speed network to collaborate in data-intensive, cutting-edge research and innovation within Canada and with colleagues in over 100 countries.
Beyond the network, CANARIE funds and promotes reusable research software tools to accelerate scientific discovery. CANARIE also supports Research Data Canada as it leads national research data management initiatives, and through the Canadian Access Federation, provides identity management services that enable secure, ubiquitous connectivity and content access to the academic community. To boost commercialization in Canada’s technology sector, CANARIE offers cloud resources to startups through its DAIR service, and links a powerful community of public and private sector partners in the Centre of Excellence in Next Generation Networks (CENGN).
Established in 1993, CANARIE is a non-profit corporation, with the majority of its funding provided by the Government of Canada.