Guggenheim and Grammy and grants… Oh, my!

By William Raillant-Clark

If someone told you that McGill researchers received grants from the Grammy and Guggenheim Foundations, you might be forgiven for thinking: “Schulich” and “Arts.” But you would be wrong. The organizations are funding cutting-edge research in the Faculty of Dentistry and at the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI).

The Grammy Foundation awarded $20,000 to Dr. Krista Hyde for her research at the MNI’s McConnell Brain Imaging Centre, and the Guggenheim Foundation has recently offered Dentistry’s

Dr. Maryam Tabrizian a fellowship worth approximately $43,000 “to help provide … as much creative freedom as

possible” to carry out her work on “cell-biomaterial interactions.”

The sciences and the arts are strongly linked at McGill – in fact, Hyde’s research does indeed involve the Schulich School of Music. Her project will use music and brain imaging tools to study auditory perception and brain differences in young adults (18-30) with autism. As a non-verbal tool, music is a unique means to study autistic individuals, who often have language impairments. Hyde hopes her work may lead to the development of musical-based intervention programs to improve social functioning in people with autism.

When it comes to the Guggenheim family and their benefactors’ generous margin of freedom, Peggy Guggenheim’s patronage of Jackson Pollock springs to mind. Although all would be surprised if Tabrizian decides to spend the next few months throwing paint around a barn. As a matter of fact, while sponsorship of the arts is perhaps the most visible outcome of their philanthropy, the Guggenheims have supported scholars, scientists and artists through the John Simon Guggenheim foundation since 1925, and their financial contributions to research have had significant consequences.

Tabrizian’s research is based on her belief that the future of biomedical devices is linked to the development of material surfaces that are engineered according to principles more closely inspired by nature. “My objective is to develop and master a reasonably broad expertise in surface modification techniques in order to cope with the highly divergent requirements for surface properties in biomedical applications,” she said. “The Guggenheim Foundation has provided a great boost to my research and I am pleased to joins the esteemed ranks of its fellows.”