The future begins.
In November 2014, the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine was launched with a vision to revolutionize the treatment of degenerative diseases and make Ontario a global leader in the development of stem cell-based products and therapies.
We’re off to a great start!


New digs and a few new faces.
2015 was a year of growth – and not just for the cells in Petri dishes. We set up a new office in SickKids research tower in Toronto and added new team members too – Lisa and Payam on the admin staff and Peter, Cheryle and Tom as co-directors. Read our team bios.
At the helm is Dr. Janet Rossant, who is known and respected for her research and leadership abilities. Keep scrolling to read more about Janet and the award she won this year.

Ontario and the world’s best minds.
Every day, approximately 1400 researchers, trainees and technicians in 175 OIRM research labs do the work needed to grow cells and ask the hard questions that will tell us more about debilitating diseases like diabetes, MS or heart failure and direct us to a cure. These hundreds of people are the heart of OIRM and our future.
Meet the researchers we like to call members. And friends. And just simply amazing.

Curing disease isn’t something you tackle alone.
That’s why we’ve engaged a range of partners from government, industry and commercial development, health charities, universities and hospitals. Groups like Clinical Trials Ontario, CellCan, the Stem Cell Network and the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation, among others. Together we’ll make things happen. Get to know all our partners.

Every person matters.
Our people are more than our staff or collaborators. They’re all Ontarians. Like Tina Ceroni, who became the second person to receive a stem cell transplant for stiff person syndrome, a rare and life-threatening disease. She’s now an avid triathlete, personal trainer and stem cell advocate. Read her remarkable story.


A focus on our regenerative medicine strength.
We’ve created our research portfolio to make the most of the talent and resources we have in Ontario. In 2015, we supported 24 projects and committed over $3 million dollars at 14 leading Ontario research centres. Take a look.

Collaboration is key.
Our Disease Team projects invite larger groups of researchers to think together about complex problems and find solutions that can be taken all the way to the clinic. In 2015, we supported seven Disease Teams, four of which – focused on cardiovascular disease, spinal cord injury, brain repair and septic shock – will carry us through 2016. .

Because some small ideas are big.
We created the New Ideas grants to provide smaller, focused support for emerging research that may become tomorrow’s breakthroughs. Take for example, the New Ideas grant led by James Ellis, which has opened up a whole new way of understanding the molecular mechanisms of diseases like Rett Syndrome. Read the story.


Our leadership was recognized by the global community.
In March, our President and Scientific Director, Janet Rossant, received the prestigious Canada Gairdner Wightman Award “for her outstanding scientific contributions to developmental biology and for her exceptional international leadership in stem cell biology and policy-making, and in advancing research programs for children’s illnesses.”
We like to think it was also for being awesome.

We steered the train to clinical translation.
Our vision involves finding the best way to move research to the clinic. But for some areas of regenerative medicine research, clinical translation hasn’t been mapped out yet, which is why we’re providing navigational tools and knowledge through our Clinical Trials Initiative. Our first successful workshop in September brought all the partners together to chart the course – around the same time we released this infographic outlining the pathways to clinical success.

We supported business ventures.
We have a strong partner in the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine. With solid links to provincial and international industry, CCRM is our commercialization arm, and they directed the development of 10 different technologies and three new business ventures over the year. Read about one of these ventures that seeks to treat more patients with blood stem cells.

We got technological.
We supported technology platforms at the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM). These platforms are essential to advancing valuable technologies and the production of affordable stem cell therapies. It’s CCRM’s expertise in these technologies and industry engagement that makes them an integral part of OIRM’s research efforts. Learn more about CCRM.

We supported Ontario’s pizzerias.
Over the past year, OIRM scientists have trained over 250 Highly Qualified Personnel HQP including undergraduate and graduate students (MSc and PhD), and postdoctoral fellows.
Math quiz: If each OIRM HQP eats 137 slices of pizza, on average, during lab meetings and training events over the course of a year, how many large pizzas have fueled Ontario’s 2015 stem cell advances?
Scroll to the end to check your answer.

We helped inspire tomorrow’s leaders.
But OIRM HQP do more than eat pizza. They make discoveries that will change medicine in the future. They crunch data and write papers. They ask questions and seek answers. And they inspire the next generation of scientists, such as 1,000+ high school students who were introduced to or attended OIRM-sponsored StemCellTalks in 2015.
Watch this video to see the impact the StemCellTalks symposia had on some Toronto students.

We sought answers outside the lab.
Not all of the answers – nor all of the questions – will originate in a Petri dish. Patients and their caregivers, as well as the health charities that serve them have a unique perspective when it comes to the kind of therapies they want. To seek their input, we brought these perspectives to the table, hosting a Health Charities forum in June and a patient-oriented focus group in November.

We knocked on doors (and opened others).
One of our goals for 2015 was to include every Ontario researcher, hospital and institution that had a significant stem cell research portfolio into our network of members.
We reached out and were heartily welcomed and we now boast over 175 researchers in 17 universities, institutes, centres and hospitals that are part of OIRM. With these strong affiliations, we were able to leverage $15 million in additional support for our research and training programs.

We made an impression.
We launched a newsletter, a website, an online publication and two social media profiles in the past year. And we’re happy to say the information we share is attracting attention. We’ve gained 1,117 Twitter followers and 643 newsletter subscribers. You can follow too.

We reached out across the world.
We recognize the importance of sharing knowledge across boundaries and we have forged strong alliances with researchers in Japan and China. Find out what we’re working on with our Chinese colleagues.

We embarked on the next five years.
In June, we received a tremendous boost from the Province of Ontario (Ministry of Research and Innovation) with renewed funding valued at $25 million over five years. It means the incredible work we’ve started will continue to grow and advance for the benefit of Ontarians and patients worldwide. Read about this commitment to our future.

It’s been an outstanding first year. Thanks to everyone who is helping us achieve a healthier, more prosperous Ontario!
Your imagination. OIRM’s expertise. Our future.
Math quiz answer: 4,282 large, 8-slice pizzas.