Toronto (Nov. 26, 2006) - University Health Network (UHN) today welcomed approximately $28-million in federal grants supporting five research teams in cancer stem cells, regenerative medicine, cancer biology, genomics, and cancer survivorship.

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), a federal organization supporting research infrastructure, is awarding UHN researchers with $21,494,110 for infrastructure and up to $6,448,233 for operating funding to be allocated at a later date. This is the largest amount awarded to UHN, in a single round, by the CFI. Since 1999, UHN has received a total of $66,582,470 in CFI Awards.

"UHN has some of the best medical researchers in the world and they are dedicated to the mission of improving health through research discoveries," said Dr. Christopher J. Paige, Vice President of Research, UHN. "The funding announced today will provide important new resources for innovation and impact."

The CFI awarded the following UHN research teams with funding:

  • Regenerative medicine is a promising research field with the potential to cure many common diseases by using the body's own cells, organs and tissues. Dr. Richard D. Weisel, Director of the Toronto General Research Institute/Toronto General Hospital and scientist with UHN's McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine, is leading "The Regenerative Medicine Project (REMEDI)" that will use computers to visualize images taken by sophisticated equipment to create models that will drive the advance of regenerative medicine research to clinical applications. The project received a $7,200,000 CFI Infrastructure Award.
  • The "Disease Genomics: Reduction to Practice" project is being led by Dr. Kathy Siminovitch, a senior scientist of the Toronto General Research Institute/Toronto General Hospital and Director of the Molecular Therapeutics Program, McLaughlin Centre for Molecular Medicine at the University of Toronto. The project focuses on creating and disseminating novel and broadly-applicable tools to accelerate genomic medicine initiatives worldwide. The project received $4,800,000 CFI Infrastructure Award.
  • Dr. Igor Jurisica, a scientist with the Ontario Cancer Institute and Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto, is launching a "Comprehensive Systems Biology Approach to Profiling and Modeling of Cancer." The goal of this project is to understand cancer at a molecular level to develop early methods of detection, accurate prognosis and effective therapies. The project received a CFI Infrastructure Award totaling $4,001,041.
  • Dr. John Dick, a Senior Scientist with the Ontario Cancer Institute/Princess Margaret Hospital and Toronto General Research Institute/Toronto General Hospital, Canada Research Chair in Stem Cell Biology and a Professor of Medical Genetics and Microbiology at the University of Toronto, is launching the world's first "Cancer Stem Cell Centre" to focus expertise, infrastructure and technologies on developing breakthrough cancer stem cell (CSC) therapies. CSCs are rare cells within a tumour that are responsible for sustaining it. By investigating CSC, more specific targeted therapies that do not kill normal stem cells may be developed, leading to reduced morbidity. The project received a CFI Infrastructure Award of $4,293,069.
  • Dr. Pamela Catton, Medical Director of the Breast Cancer Survivorship Program at Princess Margaret Hospital and Professor of Radiation Oncology at the University of Toronto, is leading a project entitled "The Electronic Living Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Cancer Survivorship Research." The focus is on developing a dynamic research collaboration between cancer survivors and investigators to explore new approaches for predicting, preventing and managing the long-term adverse effects of cancer and its treatment. The project received a $1,200,000 CFI Infrastructure Award with operating funding to be allocated.

"Strong support from the government is critical for building a thriving biomedical industry in Ontario, and attracting and retaining leading research talent," said Dr. Bob Bell, President and CEO, UHN. "Ontario is well on its way of becoming a major hub for health scientific discovery."

About University Health Network Research

University Health Network Research - University Health Network research institutes – Toronto General Research Institute, Toronto Western Research Institute and Ontario Cancer Institute – have nearly 500 scientists and clinician scientists as well as more than 1,700 students, fellows and technical staff performing leading-edge medical research in the areas of cancer, cardiology, transplantation, neuroscience and visual sciences, musculoskeletal health, arthritis, immunology and infectious diseases.

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