Research Matters Announces Ontario’s Five Favourite Game-Changing Research Discoveries

Five discoveries from Ontario university campuses have emerged as the public’s favourites in this year’s game-changing research contest

The votes are in and the top-five favourite game-changing Ontario research discoveries, as voted on by the public, will be announced today by Research Matters at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.

The favourites include insulin, the Yukon Gold potato and a technique that has saved countless premature babies.Yukon Gold Potato Playing Card for the Research Matters Game-Changing Research at Ontario Universities campaign

“It’s so important to share the stories that shine a light on the kind of ‘game-changing’ university research that transforms how we live, work, and play,” says Bonnie M. Patterson, President and CEO of the Council of Ontario Universities (COU), which launched the Research Matters contest on behalf of the province’s 21 publicly funded universities.

“These discoveries show the wide-ranging research strengths of Ontario’s universities and I hope they will encourage our bright young researchers to explore ambitious new ideas that will continue to shape and improve the world around us.”

Through the Research Matters campaign, the public was invited to vote over the summer for their favourite game-changing Ontario discoveries from a list of 50 spanning the last 100 years.

The top five innovations selected, in no particular order, are:

Fighting Gravity: Wilbur Franks, University of Toronto, invents the first anti-gravity or G-suit used in combat, and it is still the foundational design for contemporary fighter-pilot and astronaut pressure suits.

Digitizing DNA: Paul Hebert, University of Guelph, proposes DNA barcoding for species identification, with applications from protecting global biodiversity to curbing food fraud.

Treating Diabetes: Frederick Banting, Charles Best, J.J.R. Macleod and J.B. Collip, University of Toronto, Western University, develop insulin to treat diabetes, a life-saving discovery for millions.

Reinventing the Potato: Gary Johnston, University of Guelph, develops the yellow-fleshed Yukon Gold potato – its popularity making it a household name.

Breathing Easier: Fred Possmayer, Western University, develops a technique to purify and sterilize lung surfactant – a substance that allows lungs to expand and breathe. It has saved the lives of countless premature babies and is used by 99 per cent of the neonatal intensive care units in Canada.

The contest ran from April-October and more than 4,000 votes were collected. Visit the Research Matters booth at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair for more information.

You can also visit the Research Matters website to view the full list of game-changing discoveries.

A second list of 50, this time focusing on game-changing research partnerships, will be announced shortly.


COU is the voice of Ontario’s universities, promoting the value of education, research and innovation that leads to social, cultural and economic success.

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Wendy McCann
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