Interdisciplinary Research

The way research is conducted at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) is changing. Flexible space within new facilities in the D- and E-Wings supports modern research activities for life and health science discovery.

Faculty, researchers and graduate students work in open-concept lab environments to support a wide range of research projects — many of which explore the university's signature areas of research and scholarship that help to position USask among the most distinguished universities in Canada and among the very best in the world.

The Biomedical and Environmental Research Cluster is a group of basic scientists and clinicians conducting a wide range of research at the University of Saskatchewan. The laboratory also contains the Core Mass Spectrometry Facility and the laboratories for the Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture (CCHSA). The cluster contains 12 faculty members, together with their students and research staff from the Departments of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Agriculture and Bioresources, Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition and the School of Public Health.

Primary contact: Shelley Kirychuk

Building on 20 years of leadership in agricultural safety and rural health issues, the Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture (CCHSA) has evolved into a new national centre of excellence which has an expanded mandate in the field of agricultural safety, rural health, delivery of training programs and knowledge translation.

The centre will continue to focus its resources on addressing public health issues related to the agricultural-rural ecosystem and bridge gaps that occur between the spectra of basic research, applied research, the community and policy.

Primary contacts: Niels Koehncke and Shelley Kirychuk

The Cancer Cluster occupies more than 6,000 sq. ft. of space on the 4th floor of the new Health Sciences Building at the University of Saskatchewan. This group includes seven principal investigators studying various aspects of cancer cell biology, including: 

  • alterations in cellular signaling pathways that contribute to oncogenesis
  • the impact of cancer-associated mutations on protein function and cell regulation
  • epigenetic mechanisms to regulate gene expression
  • DNA repair mechanisms
  • understanding the genetic dependencies of cancer cells via synthetic lethality to define new therapeutic targets
  • tumor immunology and immunotherapeutics

This group provides high calibre interdisciplinary training in the study of cancer cells utilizing a blend of cell biology, biochemistry, molecular biology, protein structure-function, enzymology, cell-based assays, and animal models to answer fundamental questions about the nature of cancer cells and how this information could be used to identify and validate new targets for therapy.

The Cancer Cluster contains four research scientists from the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency and three researchers from the University of Saskatchewan. The combined group size is about 35 people, including: graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, research associates, research technicians, summer students and undergraduate research project students. 

Primary contact: Deborah Anderson

The Cardiopulmonary Research Cluster is a group of scientists and clinicians conducting a wide range of research at the University of Saskatchewan. The cluster contains eleven faculty members, together with their students and research staff, from the Departments of Biochemistry, Medicine, Pharmacology and Physiology.

Primary contacts: John Gordon and Lixin Liu

The Drug Discovery and Development Research Group (DDDRG) provides pharmaceutical, nutritional, and molecular sciences expertise with an aim to develop effective and sustainable therapeutic strategies for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease. They support and advance research leading to new therapeutic applications for existing drugs as well as the discovery of bioactive compounds found in prominent Saskatchewan agricultural products (e.g. flaxseed and pulse crops) as a value-added benefit to the agricultural economy.

Current research targets the metabolic dependencies in cancer and metabolic syndrome; focusing on flaxseed lignans and cyclopeptides and anthocyanidins of Saskatoon berries. The team is also investigating the repurposing of agents to break cancer resistance and is developing pharmaceutical analytical technology to improve cost effectiveness and analytical throughput.

Primary contact: Jane Alcorn

The Imaging and Development Research Cluster contains 14 clinicians and scientists from four departments and the School of Rehabilitation Science within the College of Medicine. A general focus of cluster activity is to develop new means to assess and treat skeletal and neural disorders, with a particular emphasis on synchrotron imaging.

Primary contact: Brian Eames

The Indigenous Peoples' Health Research Centre (IPHRC) is a partnership between the University of Regina, First Nations University of Canada and the University of Saskatchewan, with broad support from various health boards and Aboriginal health organizations. 

​IPHRC is focused on building capacity for community-based Indigenous health research in Saskatchewan, and creating networks of Indigenous health researchers regionally, nationally and internationally. We are researchers, students and community members who envision thriving, healthy, self-determining Indigenous peoples, families and communities.

Primary contact: Jo-Ann Episkenew

USask currently conducts vigorous research into providing innovative treatments for infectious diseases, using molecular design of new drugs. Using this research and investments in unique synchrotron technologies at the Canadian Light Source, biological and containment facilities at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac), the Molecular Design Research Group has submitted a proposal for a Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERC) position, which would provide a focal point for a team-driven aggressive attack on these infectious diseases that threaten our society.

Primary contact: Mirek Cygler

The neuroscience cluster is a group of basic scientists and clinicians conducting neuroscience-related research at the University of Saskatchewan. Here, they share contiguous laboratory and office space within the Health Sciences building. As a team, we are making great progress in understanding what causes certain brain disorders and how best to treat patients who suffer from these brain disorders. Faculty members, trainees, and research staff work in the areas of mental health, psychiatric disorders, and related illnesses, including:

  • Stroke
  • Epilepsy
  • Neurodegenerative disorders
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Pain
  • Diabetes

Primary contact: Francisco Cayabyab

The Saskatchewan Population Health and Evaluation Research Unit (SPHERU) is a bi-university health research unit based at the Universities of Regina and Saskatchewan. Since 1999, SPHERU has established itself as a leader in cutting edge population health research that not only looks at the what and why of health inequities but also how to address these and take action.

While much population health research focuses on describing health inequities, SPHERU’s focus is on population health intervention research: We look at how to address inequities by taking action on the social determinants of health. By intervention, we mean any developments or changes to policies, programs, research, funding, or any other action that influences the determinants of health and positively affect population health outcomes.

SPHERU’s work includes the creation of new knowledge, independent policy analysis, collaborative research with policy makers, and collaboration with communities to develop strategies to reduce health inequities. Much of our work falls within the following main themes:

  • Northern and Aboriginal Health
  • Healthy Children
  • Rural Health and
  • History of Health Inequities

Primary contact: Nazeem Muhajarine

The Proteomics Research in Interactions and Structure of Macromolecules (PRISM) Centre brings together a large group of scientists with diverse research programs with protein science as a common denominator. The research themes of PRISM members are related to the understanding and utilization of molecular processes in the cell and in cell-cell interactions, and include:

  • signal transduction and molecular mechanisms of cancer
  • protein-protein interactions and molecular mechanism of pathogenicity
  • molecular mechanisms of immunity and vaccine development
  • small molecular inhibitors as therapeutic agents

PRISM maintains the Protein Characterization and Crystallization Facility (PCCF), which provides access to specialized equipment guided by knowledgeable PhD-level staff.  

Primary contact: Miroslaw Cygler