To Spur Software Re-use in Research, CANARIE Awards up to $3.4M to Research Teams to Evolve their Platforms for Use by Other Researchers

Software re-use accelerates time to discovery and maximizes the impact of public funding for research

[Ottawa, ON]

CANARIE announced today the selection of 13 successful projects from its latest Research Software funding call. This funding will enable research teams to adapt their existing research platforms for re-use by other research teams, including those working in different disciplines. As a result, new research teams from across Canada will be able to re-use previously funded and developed software to accelerate their discoveries.

The research workflow (data acquisition, storage, computation/processing, visualization, and data management) is common across all research disciplines. By adapting purpose-built software developed for this workflow so that other research teams can also benefit from them, the impact of public investments in research is maximized and time to discoveries can be accelerated:

  • More research funding is allocated to research, rather than to the development of software that already exists
  • Efficiencies in software development enable researchers to devote their time and resources to the research itself

This funding is part of the Government of Canada’s $137 million investment supporting CANARIE’s 2020-24 mandate.

“The ability to connect, share data and work collaboratively with researchers from across Canada and the world is a priority for our government,” said the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “Today’s funding will help accelerate Canadian discoveries by making it easier for our researchers to find, access, and reuse data with collaborators across the country and around the world.”

Research teams awarded funding include:

  • CBRAIN | Led by Dr. Alan C. Evans, McGill University

A web-based, collaborative research platform for simplifying access to Big Data computations on national high-performance and cloud computing infrastructure. CBRAIN was first funded by CANARIE in 2009 and has been critical in neuroimaging research since then.

Software Evolution: CBRAIN will add two new workflows into CBRAIN to manage data in new ways, supporting new researchers and research disciplines.

  • SlicerAIGT | Led by Dr. Gabor Fichtinger, Queen’s University

A platform that enables rapid development of image-guided therapy (IGT) applications, where medical procedures are performed on patients with the aid of computer-generated images rather than through direct sight of the target organs. Two extensions of Slicer have been previously funded by CANARIE.

Software Evolution: SlicerAIGT will add an Artificial Intelligence extension to the platform, using machine learning to isolate and identify individual features in medical images.

  • LORIS | Led by Dr. Alan C. Evans, McGill University

A platform that enables researchers to collect, curate, and share data in trans-disciplinary collaborations, initially developed at the Montreal Neurological Institute to serve as the main data platform for a Pediatric Brain Development Study. LORIS has grown to support multi-site research projects cross-linking data from the brain, behaviour, and genes, with users in 22 countries.

Software Evolution: LORIS will be extended to include electroencephalogram (EEG) data, to support sleep research and human brain mapping.

  • Motus | Led by Dr. Denis Lepage, Birds Canada

An international collaborative research network that uses coordinated automated radio telemetry arrays to track local, regional, and continental movements of small animals such as birds, bats, and insects. The Motus Wildlife Tracking System was created in 2012 with additional CANARIE funding in 2016.

Software Evolution: To support the ongoing adoption of the platform by new research teams, Motus will evolve to support newer tracking technologies, enhanced user interfaces, and interoperability with other research platforms.

  • IRIDA | Led by Dr. William Hsiao, Simon Fraser University

IRIDA is an extensible, open-source genomic analysis platform that enables quick and effective genomic analysis of microbial organisms. Whole genome sequencing is a powerful tool for infectious disease investigations and pathogen evolution research, owing to its high resolution, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness.

Software Evolution: To support its growing user base, IRIDA (first funded by CANARIE in 2018) will add new workflows for new research areas and improve its user interface. In response to COVID-19, IRIDA is used for coordinated data sharing and analysis in the Canadian Public Health system. To support European research collaborations, IRIDA will also be enhanced with data export capabilities to allow its data to be deposited into the European Nucleotide Archive (ENA).

  • OpenMS | Led by Dr. Hannes Rost, University of Toronto

OpenMS is a large collection of software tools that allow researchers to make effective use of mass spectrometers, which are analytical tools that accurately measure the mass of different molecules within a sample.

Software Evolution: Research hospitals around the world are actively engaged in the discovery of disease and molecular signatures (or “biomarkers”) that help detect the onset of disease, accelerate treatment plans, and predict outcomes. In this project, OpenMS will be modified to discover and validate the presence of biomarkers in the complex data streams produced by mass spectrometers.

  • Overture | Led by Dr. Christina Yung, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research

Overture is a software suite composed of customizable and extendable components for big-data genomic research. Overture stores and distributes genomic datasets while providing an authentication and authorization system, as well as a user-friendly portal for browsing and querying data.

Software Evolution: To increase adoption by new research teams, Overture will simplify its installation and configuration, provide additional authentication functionality, and improve the customizability of the data portal.

  • GenAP | Led by Dr. Pierre-Étienne Jacques, Université de Sherbrooke

Since receiving initial CANARIE funding in 2013, the Genetics and Genomics Analysis Platform (GenAP) has enabled more than 200 life science researchers across Canada to have simplified access to Compute Canada’s high-performance computing resources.

Software Evolution: To meet demands from a growing user base of researchers in new, data-intensive disciplines, GenAP will scale its computational analysis capabilities and research workflows.

  • SimVascular | Led by Christopher W. McIntyre, Lawson Health Research Institute

SimVascular is a sophisticated computational platform for the accurate study of blood flow, vessel wall mechanics, and their interaction. Its major components include an AI-based image processor and advanced data processing capabilities.

Software Evolution: SimVascular will be customized to support the work of six new research teams in a variety of disciplines, supporting research in human brain arterial structures, cerebral aneurisms, and the effects of dialysis on the body.

The PAVICS (Power Analytics for Visualization of Climate Science) platform is a collection of climate analysis services, including data access, processing, and visualization. First funded by CANARIE in 2018, its overarching goal is to reach scientists from disciplines that increasingly require weather and climate data to conduct their research and operations.

Software Evolution: PAVICS-Hydro will add modeling techniques for distributed watershed outflows, a toolbox for hydrological forecasting research, and more generic platform additions to facilitate research, development, and training.

  • CANFAR | Led by Dr. Kimberly Venn, University of Victoria

The Canadian Advanced Network for Astronomy Research (CANFAR) platform simplifies access to data-intensive astronomy projects that use Canadian telescopic assets and Compute Canada infrastructure. CANFAR was originally funded by CANARIE in 2011.

Software Evolution: New CANFAR extensions will allow research teams to customize their use of cloud resources for data analysis and storage. For the first time, researchers will also be able to develop interactive, browser-based data-intensive scientific workflows, and will also be able to control and share these workflows with their collaborators.

  • iEnvironment | Led by Dr. Donald D. Cowan, University of Waterloo

First funded by CANARIE in 2017, iEnvironment is a platform that supports environmental science and engineering research on surface water by providing researchers with the ability to easily access and share environmental data.

Software Evolution: To support new teams of surface water researchers across multiple disciplines, iEnvironment will add new features that enable data and application reuse and monitoring, adaptation management, and advanced data visualization and processing.

These platforms provide materials scientists and engineers with a unique ability to study structures at the pore level. This is essential for learning how fluids, electrons, and heat move through porous media. OpenPNM was first funded by CANARIE in 2017.

Software Evolution: To support new teams of researchers, the performance of OpenPNM and PoreSpy platforms will be optimized and new functionality be added to support research in soft materials and geological structures.

New software developed with CANARIE funding draws from previously developed software in the Research Software Registry. New, funded software is contributed back to the Registry for use by other researchers, resulting in significant process and cost efficiencies through a powerful cycle of software development and reuse.

For more information, contact:

Ela Yazdani
Director, Communications
CANARIE | 613-282-1584


CANARIE connects Canadians to each other and to the world. Our programs equip Canadian researchers, students, and startups to excel on the global stage.

Together with our thirteen provincial and territorial partners, we form Canada’s National Research and Education Network (NREN). This ultra-high-speed network connects Canada’s researchers, educators, and innovators to each other and to global data, technology, and colleagues.

Beyond the network, we fund and promote the development of software for research and national efforts to manage data generated from research. To strengthen the security of Canada’s research and education sector, we collaborate with our partners in the NREN, government, academia, and the private sector to fund, implement, and support cybersecurity initiatives. We also provide identity management services to the academic community and boost Canada’s startups with cloud resources and expertise in emerging technologies.

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