NSERC Funding Creates $3 Million Senior Industrial Research Chair in Biomaterials at Trent University


Research chair supported by matching funds from industrial partners to focus on ‘Lipid Derived Biomaterials’

Friday, November 12, 2010, Peterborough

A research funding announcement made today by Dean Del Mastro, MP, Peterborough and Dr. Suzanne Fortier, President of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) on behalf of the Government of Canada, will result in the creation of a new $3 million Senior Industrial Research Chair at Trent University focusing on Biomaterials.

Over $1.5 million in new NSERC funding was provided to create the “NSERC/GFO/ERS Senior Industrial Research Chair in Lipid Derived Biomaterials,” awarded to Dr. Suresh Narine, director, Trent Biomaterials Research Program, and professor, physics and astronomy, and chemistry. 

This research award, when combined with the match investments announced in October, 2009 by Elevance Renewable Sciences, Inc. ($1 million) and a $500,000 investment by the Ontario Soybean Growers (since renamed as the Grain Farmers of Ontario), places Trent’s Biomaterials Research Program among the top-tier research facilities of its kind in the world, pursuing fundamental and applied research investigating the use of lipids in different applications.

“The new NSERC Senior Industrial Research Chair represents a unique addition to Trent University’s research and development strengths,” said Dr. Steven E. Franklin, president and vice-chancellor of Trent University.  “The biomaterials research led by Dr. Narine and his team of researchers has the potential of adding substantial value to the University.  The research being conducted in Peterborough at Trent University will have an impact at a local, regional, national and a global level.  We are extremely grateful for NSERC’s support.”

Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro emphasized how NSERC’s funding compliments the government’s overall science and technology framework.  “The government’s Mobilizing Science and Technology Strategy focuses on building an entrepreneurial, knowledge and people advantage for Canada.  NSERC’s investment in Dr. Narine’s research in biomaterials reflects the importance that the federal government attaches to basic and applied research in the environmental sciences and technology.”

“NSERC makes Canada a country of innovators and discoverers,” said Dr. Suzanne Fortier, President of NSERC. “Dr. Narine is leading an excellent research program. He brings strong science expertise, a clear understanding of market needs and an appreciation of the diverse knowledge needed to create industrially-relevant, consumer-driven products.”

“Our research offers an alternative solution – to employ agriculturally-sourced renewable feed stocks (fats and oils) to design functional materials more environmentally benign and more in sync with the natural carbon cycle so as to abate and combat climate change,” said Dr. Narine, who was recruited to Trent from the University of Alberta in September, 2009. “It is research that is both timely and necessary. On behalf of my team of researchers and Trent University, I would like to offer our deep appreciation to NSERC and our generous founding industrial partners whose match investments are strategically placing Trent’s Biomaterials Research Program among one of the top facilities of its kind in the world.”

"Elevance Renewable Sciences, Inc. is extremely pleased with the partnerships established around the NSERC Industrial Research Chair, which has been awarded to Dr. Suresh Narine,” said Dr. Steve Di Biase, Chief Scientific Officer. “The NSERC investment will help develop much needed research capacity supporting the training of Ph.D. level scientists in emergent biomaterial technologies."

"The Grain Farmers of Ontario is an organization that represents 28,000 Ontario farmers. One of our strategic priorities is to facilitate the development of new high-value markets for soybeans,” said Crosby Devitt, manager, research and innovation for GFO.   “We are delighted that NSERC has matched our major investment in the Trent University Biomaterials Program, and we know that this NSERC investment will help Dr. Narine and his team to expedite the development of new bioproducts which use soybean oil as the raw material."  

NSERC is a federal agency which helps make Canada a country of discoverers and innovators for all Canadians. The agency supports some 29,500 university students and postdoctoral fellows in their advanced studies. NSERC promotes discovery by funding more than 11,800 university professors every year and fosters innovation by encouraging more than 1,500 Canadian companies to participate and invest in postsecondary research projects.

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For more information contact:
Martine Perreault, Media and Public Affairs Officer, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, 613-996-7238, E-mail:

Don Cumming, Senior Director, Public Affairs and Government Relations, (705) 748-1011, ext. 6181, E-mail:


Dr. Suresh Narine

A Trent University alumnus, Dr. Narine, who is originally from Guyana, completed both his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Peterborough.  In Alberta, he was one of four Alberta Value Added Corporation Chairs with the University of Alberta, where he built the Alberta Lipid Utilization Research Program, focused on the utilization of fats and oils for the production of industrial materials, high value edible applications, and cosmetic ingredients.  As a previous NSERC Industrial Chair in Lipid Utilization, Dr. Narine also built the world’s leading agri-food materials science lab and plant facility and, among other feats, developed the technology to convert canola oil and other vegetable oils to biodegradable plastics. Dr. Narine was also named the Ontario Research Chair in Green Chemistry and Engineering, a $1.5 million research chair, in February 2010. He is also director of Guyana’s Institute of Applied Science and Technology and author of Guyana’s Agro-Energy strategy. For his work, Dr. Narine is regarded as a pioneer of bioenergy and agro-energy in Guyana and the Caribbean.


Biomaterials represent a multidisciplinary approach to the development of new and functional, environmentally-responsible materials from renewable, sustainable agricultural feedstock, using: synthetic organic chemistry; microbial and enzymatic modification; materials chemistry and physics; and polymers physics. The resulting products include: healthy, functional foods and food matrices; functional, toxin-free polymers; medical implants and drug delivery matrices; functional waxes and greases; lubricants with specialized functionalities; cosmetics; and fuels.