By Ian C. Robertson
Researchers from the John P. Robarts Institute at Western are hoping Ottawa politicians will focus their attention on research and funding.
A group of 12 people, consisting of three senior scientists and their assistants, left for Ottawa on Monday planning to set up four interactive displays within the Parliament Buildings featuring examples and illustrations of the institutes' work.
Bill Bridger, vice-president of research at Western, said the team hopes to get the attention of members of Parliament and raise money to continue research. He added scientists at the institute, many of whom are Western faculty members, are known for doing significant work in fields such as cardiovascular and diabetic research, among others.
Dr. Delovitch, head of the autoimmunity and diabetes research group at Robarts, said the efforts of the Ottawa group will be good for the institute and will help to further his group's work.
Delovitch said his research group uses a mouse model of diabetes to perform research on. This model is designed so it will spontaneously form the disease with automatic deficiencies in its immune system allowing scientists to investigate why white blood cells migrate to the pancreas and kill beta cells.
Bridger said the idea for the trip came from president and scientific director Dr. M.J. Poznansky and London Member of Parliament Joe Fontana, both of whom are in Ottawa and will spend time with the scientists. He added this venture is just one part of a 'Discovery Campaign' to raise money for the institute which has a $22 million dollar budget primarily funded by the federal government.
Ross Marsh, campaign organizer, said he hopes overall public awareness for the value of research will be generated in addition to financial benefits. The campaign to raise $29.2 million to buy new equipment and attract top scientists has generated close to $15 million since June 1995.
Marsh added the campaign has concentrated primarily on corporate and individual donors, but recently ventured into the community with a program called 'Kernals for a Cure' in which bags of popcorn were sold for a dollar to cars stopped on Queens Ave. in London.
With big purchases being made by local business people, the campaign has managed to raise over $10,000, yet Bridger said the project will continue meeting face-to-face with large corporate donors.