UNB welcomes new Vice President of Research

On August 1, 2012, the University of New Brunswick will welcome Dr. David Burns as its new vice president of research.

As a member of UNB’s senior management team, Dr. Burns will help shape UNB’s strategic research direction and agenda.

As a member of UNB’s senior management team, Dr. Burns will help shape UNB’s strategic research direction and agenda.

“I am really looking forward to working with faculty, students and staff at UNB – lots of exciting opportunities and initiatives on both campuses,” says Burns.

Leaning on his past experience in education, Burns is hoping to communicate how research directly affects individuals.

“Our first mission is the education of people, and research is fundamental to education,” he says. “That’s how you gain new knowledge, through research. I am passionate about all forms of research.”

The early years

While at the University of Washington, Burns was a professor of bioengineering and the director of imaging at the special centre for organized research in vascular disease. Following a move from Seattle to Montreal, where he has spent the last 19 years, Burns has been a professor of chemistry and experimental medicine at McGill University.

In 1998, Burns was named scientific director, and then director, of the national centre of excellence for respiratory disease at McGill. He was then the associate dean for the university’s faculty of science from 2002 until 2008.

With research interests in biosensors, Burns says UNB’s program, specifically its new biosphere interface, is what drew him to New Brunswick.

Using his past experience, he is hoping to establish connections between provincial health initiatives and research that is ongoing at UNB and UNBSJ.

“The establishment of the new med school in Saint John, and the creation of stronger connections between medical centers in New Brunswick, is really a tremendous opportunity for investigators ranging from the arts and social sciences to the physical sciences and engineering,” says Burns.

Using direct communication, and leveraging outreach programs and community involvement to come up with ideas that can become commercialized, Burns says is one way that an infrastructure can be built between business, academia, and government.

“This is a time of opportunity for health care in Canada,” says Burns. “New Brunswick, and UNB specifically, can be a viable part of that.”

“There are tons of ways that we can help build businesses in communities in New Brunswick. Our job is not to make the business, but to provide opportunities and show people how to,” adds Burns.

Bringing research to life

Burns says he is hoping to get the community involved in research activity and initiatives at the university over his tenure. He is hoping to highlight the tremendous research that is happening at the university, why it’s important, and why people are passionate about it.

Part of that plan involves educating younger students, from kindergarten to grade 12, that research is fundamental to education. Burns hopes to introduce them to the benefits of research and the importance of continuing their education.

“The university can become a partner with many others in the province to try to make New Brunswick a better place.”

Starting on August 1, Burns will get this chance.

Contributed by Bronté James, Communications and Marketing. Story was made possible through UNB Associated Alumni

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