January 22nd, 2021

$400K in donations to enhance U of L prairie plant research

By Nick Kuhl on January 11, 2020.

Tim Kalinowski

Lethbridge Herald


The University of Lethbridge received $400,000 in donations from two 
corporations to advance its community engagement efforts in the 
sciences and to fund cutting-edge prairie plant research on Friday.
A donation of $250,000 from Power Corporation of Canada will provide 
infrastructure to help develop a flexible lab and makerspace in the U 
of L’s Science Commons and another gift will help fund the plant 
science research of the Dr. Jim Coutts Prairie Research Program, which 
will examine prairie plants to determine chemical properties which 
could be important to science in general, and in particular to human 
health. The research will include insights from local Indigenous 
elders who will share traditional knowledge about the healing 
properties of certain plants. Canada Life donated an additional 
$150,000 toward both projects in co-ordination with Power Corp.
“It is astonishing that, even in the 21st century, we are only 
beginning to realize that plants from the Alberta Prairies contain 
chemicals of medical importance,” said U of L biologist Roy Golsteyn, 
who heads the Dr. Jim Coutts Prairie Research Program. “This funding 
will continue to support our students and our research as we 
investigate these plants, seeking the chemicals that may lead to new 
and better treatments for eradicating cancer.”
“There are plants which are unique here (in southwest Alberta),” he 
added, “and these plants have some very important chemicals in them. 
We also know from our contacts with the First Nation communities, who 
have been very generous with us, that they also know things about 
these plants that help them with their health.”
It was a university research approach unique in Canada, and well worth 
funding in its own right, said Paul Genest, senior vice-president, 
Power Corporation of Canada.
“What we see at the University of Lethbridge is cutting-edge research 
and a commitment to a first-class student experience here involving 
students actually in the research,” said Genest, senior vice-
president in giving his reasons for his company’s support. “And 
also the values of the palace — there is clearly a commitment to 
community engagement. There is an involvement with Indigenous Elders 
and respect for traditional knowledge (in the Dr. Jim Coutts Prairie 
Research Program), and really cultivating something new in Canada 
which is looking at the whole ecosystem for life-saving drugs that 
will improve quality of life.”
Genest also admitted he took some personal satisfaction in making the 
donation in memory of his friend, the program’s namesake, Dr. Jim 
While that prairie plant research is cutting-edge and important, the 
fraction of the donation earmarked for the Science Commons makerspace 
and flex-lab is no less important, in his mind, said Canada Life CEO 
Paul Mahon.
“We saw the work University of Lethbridge was doing to try to advance 
education in a couple different ways,” he explained. “When we saw 
the diversity of trying to bring different sciences together and the 
whole idea of collaboration as well, but also the theme of focusing 
not just on undergrad and grad students but also K-12, all those 
things coming together really said there was something special here 
and we really wanted to be supportive of it.”
Follow @TimKalHerald on Twitter

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Congratulations! Actual news not socialist propaganda! And good news at that! Could this be the start of a return to sanity?