Canada’s Stem Cell Network Makes Its Single Largest Investment in Regenerative Medicine Research
SCN announces $19.5M in funding for 32 regenerative medicine research projects and clinical trials involving more than 400 researchers, clinicians, and trainees from across Canada
May 12, 2022 (Ottawa, ON) – Canada’s Stem Cell Network (SCN) announced today $19.5 million for 32 stem cell and regenerative medicine research projects and clinical trials. This investment is SCN’s largest funding injection into the sector in its 20-year history, made possible through increased funding by the Government of Canada in 2021. With in-kind and cash support from 34 partner organizations valued at $22.4 million, this investment allows Canada’s regenerative medicine research community to harness a total of $42 million for research activities and clinical trials over the next three years.
Stem cells have traditionally fuelled the field of regenerative medicine (RM) which is focused on regrowing, repairing or replacing damaged or diseased cells, organs and tissues. Stem cell therapies have been used to treat blood cancers such as leukemia for many years, but they hold extraordinary promise to one day treat rare and chronic disease and life-altering illnesses such as type 1 diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. As the science rapidly advances so too are the techniques, approaches and tools that can be used to drive RM forward.
The projects and clinical trials announced today by SCN will take place across the country and involve over 400 researchers, clinicians, and trainees. Fifty-nine percent of the projects will be led by women, with 12 projects led by early career investigators. In total, the projects cover 20 different disease areas and illnesses such as, stroke, cardiovascular disease, type 1 diabetes, Parkinson’s, muscular dystrophy, blood cancers, multiple sclerosis, wound repair and sepsis.
The largest of the projects funded by SCN today are part of a new multi-year program, the Horizon awards. Valued at $3 million per award, they are the largest award SCN has offered in the past decade and focus on conducting innovative research and developing transformative technology solutions for tackling regenerative medicine challenges that will result in both health and economic benefits in the coming decade. Horizon awards also aim to seed research and build made-in-Canada intellectual property that will yield translational or commercialization activity. Three multi-disciplinary national teams have been granted Horizon awards to conduct research focused on next-generation therapies for treating blood cancers, advancing cardiac regeneration, and scaling up and biomanufacturing personalized therapies for type 1 diabetes.
To learn more about SCN’s funding programs and specific projects to be supported visit: https://stemcellnetwork.ca/research/research-competition-results/
To learn more about SCN’s three Horizon awards visit: https://stemcellnetwork.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/2022-05-11-Horizon-Awards-Feature-Article-May-2022-FINAL.pdf
“Stem cell and regenerative medicine is a made-in-Canada success story that drives innovation and saves the lives of Canadians and countless others around the world. Through the Stem Cell Network, we are proud to invest in our world-class researchers and scientists and support their ground-breaking work to tackle some of the most serious illnesses we face today. When we invest in science, we invest in better, healthier lives for everyone.”
– The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry
“Canada’s stem cell research community is second-to-none, as is evident when reviewing the names of those who will be leading and participating on our new projects. Today we announce the first of two peer reviewed funding competitions for the 2022-2025 period, and we are thrilled to be able to offer support through a diversity of programs that will keep the national regenerative medicine research pipeline full for years to come. I look forward to seeing the results of the work that will come from today’s announcement as I know it will deliver novel therapies to patients today and tomorrow.”
– Michael Rudnicki, O.C., Ph.D, FRS, FRSC, Scientific Director, Stem Cell Network
“As our nation strives to build a durable and modern economy that provides continued prosperity and better health for all Canadians, SCN is honoured to play its part. Today’s funding will ensure next-generation life science leaders get the hands-on training and experience needed to ensure Canada remains internationally competitive. SCN funding will also enable growth of Canada’s biomanufacturing sector and fuel clinical trials that will allow eligible patients access to leading-edge treatments that would otherwise be out of reach.”
– Cate Murray, President & CEO, Stem Cell Network
The existence of stem cells was first proven by two Canadians from the University of Toronto, Drs. Ernest McCulloch and James Till, in the early 1960s. Since then, Canada has consistently ranked in the top five internationally when it comes to impact and innovation in the stem cell and regenerative medicine sector.
The Stem Cell Network is a national not-for-profit that supports three main objectives: stem cell and regenerative medicine research; training the next generation of highly qualified personnel; and supporting the knowledge mobilization of research outputs. SCN’s vision is: To power life-saving therapies and technologies through regenerative medicine for the benefit of all.
Today’s funding announcement of $19.5 million, with $22.4 million of in-kind and cash support from partner organizations, will support over 400 people across 32 projects, covering 20 disease areas. Seventeen projects are being funded in Ontario, six in Quebec, seven in British Columbia, one in Alberta and one in Saskatchewan.
By the end of fiscal year 2023, SCN will have provided over $160 million for innovative research and training, with network investigators leveraging an additional partner contribution at approximately a 1:1 rate. This support will have enabled 270 projects and 231 world-class research teams and more than 5,000 trainees across Canada. SCN will also have catalyzed over 30 clinical trials and catalyzed or enhanced 29 start-up companies.
According to a 2021 report published by the Institute of Health Economics (IHE), Canada is well-positioned to realize — or even surpass — a target of $5 billion in RM-generated economic growth and create 6,000 highly skilled jobs.
Samantha Rae Ayoub
Vice President, Communications and Knowledge Mobilization