Harnessing the Power and Potential of Regenerative Medicine in Canada

Stem Cell Network announces more than $4M in funding for 16 translational stem cell-based research projects involving more than 200 researchers and trainees from coast to coast.

(Ottawa) October 26, 2020 – The Stem Cell Network (SCN) announced today $4.3 million in funding to support stem cell and regenerative medicine research projects that will help to deliver improved health for Canadians and will contribute to our national economic recovery. The announcement was made by Mr. Will Amos, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry (Science) during the Stem Cell Network’s annual research conference, the Till & McCulloch Meetings, held virtually for this first time this year.

SCN is funding a total of 16 projects involving more than 200 researchers and trainees from across Canada. Today’s funding is being matched with partner support valued at more than $7 million. These funded projects include stem cell-based research into new therapeutics for type-1 diabetes, cancer, cystic fibrosis, brain and heart conditions.

“These announcements are always such a point of pride for the Stem Cell Network as we get the opportunity to showcase our world-leading research community. This is the second round of a two-round competition for the 2019-22 funding period, and we were thrilled with the volume, and high quality of the applications we received,” said Dr. Michael Rudnicki, O.C., Scientific Director & CEO of SCN.

The Innovation Research Program for Early Career Investigator, a new funding program offered by SCN, will fund seven exciting young leaders – all of whom are women and driving innovative stem cell-based technologies and therapies forward. For example:

  • Dr. Amy Wong, from The Hospital for Sick Children is using stem cells to better understand lung development to find ways for early intervention in the prevention of lung damage from diseases like cystic fibrosis.
  • Dr. Jessica Esseltine, from Memorial University of Newfoundland is using gene therapy to gain a better understanding of a form of inherited heart disease in Newfoundland, locally known as the Newfoundland Curse.
  • Dr. Jo Anne Stratton, from McGill University is using stem cells to develop a tool for researchers to better study the diseased and healthy brain.

“I was particularly impressed by the calibre of our Early Career Investigator program applications. It gives me great confidence, knowing that we have established a solid pipeline of emerging leaders in the stem cell and regenerative medicine sector in Canada,” added Dr. Rudnicki.


About the Stem Cell Network
The Stem Cell Network (SCN) is a national non-profit that supports stem cell and regenerative medicine research, training the next generation of highly qualified personnel, and delivering outreach activities across Canada. SCN’s goal is to advance science from the lab to the clinic for the benefit of Canadians. SCN has been supported by the Government of Canada since inception in 2001. This strategic funding, valued at $118M, has benefitted approximately 196 world-class research groups and over 3,300 trainees and has catalyzed 24 clinical trials.
Tomorrow’s health is here.  stemcellnetwork.ca

Background on Round 2 Projects
Through Budget 2019, the Government of Canada signalled its continued confidence in Canadian stem cell and regenerative medicine research with a multi-year investment of $18 million through the Stem Cell Network (SCN). Today’s announcement is the second round of the competition – the first round resulted in $6.9 million to support 9 projects, announced in March 2020. SCN also launched a rapid response initiative offered in April 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In all, 33 projects have received SCN funding and this has leveraged more than $20.3M in partner funding. Over the past 19 years, SCN has invested over $118 million, and leveraged $125 million in partner funding.

As part of the Round 2 competition SCN is flowing funds through four strategic translational research programs:

The Accelerating Clinical Translation Program will provide $2.4M to support seven multi-disciplinary research projects move towards the clinic within the next three to five years. Research supported will seek enhancements to bone marrow stem cell transplants, treatments for heart disease and cancer, therapeutics for multiple sclerosis and will provide critical pre-clinical work for future clinical trials in type-1 diabetes, and epidermolysis bullosa.

The Fueling Biotechnology Partnerships Program will provide $714K for two academic partnerships with emerging Canadian regenerative medicine biotech companies who are working to drive an innovative stem cell-based technology or therapy into the clinic or market. Funded projects include a novel gene therapy to correct mutations in lung stem cells and cure or regenerate deadly and untreatable neonatal and adult lung diseases and improving the scalability and manufacturing of human pluripotent stem cell-derived T-cell therapies to increase access and drive down costs.

The Innovation Research Program for Early Career Investigator will provide more than $1M to support seven early career investigators (within the first five years of an initial academic appointment) to develop a stem cell research program with a regenerative medicine focus. Areas of focus include work in cystic fibrosis, Duchenne muscular dystrophy and brain and heart conditions.

The Translation and Society Team Award will provide $175K to support a national multi-disciplinary team working to develop improved clinical reporting guidelines to better define and increase transparency in Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) research.

Full list of funded research projects.


Media contact:
Janice Nicholson
Director of Communications