BioZone PIs awarded two ORF-RE 8 grants

BioZone PIs are leading two Ontario Research Fund – Research Excellence (ORF-RE) round 8 applications. Each project is worth $12M over 5 years with a $4M contribution from the Ministry of Research and Innovation.


The goal of the Biochemicals from Cellulosic Biomass (BioCeB) project is to replace petroleum-derived chemicals with green, sustainable chemicals made from renewable forestry and agricultural waste products. BioCeB will use computational metabolic engineering methods to create bacteria and yeasts with the capacity to convert sugars derived from the processing of wood fibre and agricultural residue into a set of chemical building blocks capable of producing many commercially-valuable polymers such as nylon. Project partners such as BioAmber, IGPC, and Lallemand will aid in the translation of project discoveries into commercial technologies and help Canada transition to a lower carbon intensity economy. This project is led by Radhakrishnan Mahadevan, from the University of Toronto, with Kristin Baetz from the University of Ottawa. The project team includes Jim Millis and Kit Lau from BioAmber,  Alexander Yakunin from the University of Toronto, Vince Martin from Concordia University, and Alexei Savchenko from the University of Calgary.


Base metal extraction from sulfide minerals across Canada has created large volumes of sulfide-laden waste tailings and rocks. This waste poses a significant acid mine drainage risk. The Elements of Bio-Mining (EBM) project aims to make the remediation of legacy mine waste economically feasible by harnessing the capabilities of microbial communities to stabilize wastes while simultaneously allowing for commercial base metal recovery. Additionally, EBM aspires to help mine sites reduce the risk of selenium being released into the environment at toxic levels. EBM partners such as Barrick, CEMI, CIMIC, Denison Environmental, ERM, Glencore, Hatch, Mirarco, Teck, and Vale are working with the project to better understanding the biological processes that act on waste rock and tailings and influence metal solubility. The project is led by Vlad Papangelakis (University of Toronto) along with Elizabeth Edwards (University of Toronto), Nadia Mykytczuk (Laurentian University), and Sue Baldwin (University of British Columbia) . The team also includes Radhakrishnan Mahadevan, Brad Saville, Alexander Yakunin, and Erin Bobicki at the University of Toronto, Chantal Barriault, John Gunn, and Thomas Merritt at Laurentian University, and Alexei Savchenko at the University of Calgary.