Ontario welcomes next major step in transformation of health care with “Medicine by Design”

July 28, 2015 Toronto, ON – Ontario and Canada’s capacity to build on its international leadership in regenerative medicine to tackle the most costly degenerative diseases were significantly enhanced today with the announcement of $114M of new funding over seven years for the Medicine by Design initiative at the University of Toronto along with its affiliated hospitals, research and commercialization centres.

Medicine by Design is the first Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) grant to be announced since the program was launched last year by the federal government. The Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology) was present to make the announcement. The CFREF program was implemented to help Canadian postsecondary institutions excel globally in research areas that create long-term economic advantages for Canada.

The Medicine by Design initiative incorporates new technologies and scientific strategies into the University of Toronto’s regenerative medicine programs and develops local capacity for manufacturing rapid lab-to-patient technologies that will allow Canada to lead the transformation of the global medical industry and become a major international supplier of regenerative medicine technologies.

More than 70% of the researchers involved in Medicine by Design are current members of the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine (OIRM), which was launched in 2014 with funding from Ontario’s Ministry of Research and Innovation with a vision to revolutionize the treatment of degenerative diseases, making Ontario a global leader in the development of stem-cell based products and therapies.

“The goals of OIRM are perfectly aligned with Medicine by Design and we look forward to the collaborations and shared programming that will arise between our two organizations over the coming years,” said Dr. Janet Rossant, OIRM’s executive director.

Among the areas OIRM is currently supporting that can be tapped as a resource for the new initiative are a robust education program, research and training grants, and eight established disease teams focused on clinical application in areas such as diabetes, cardiovascular, vision, bone and cartilage, and neural repair.

Medicine by Design will in turn complement and advance existing knowledge in three core areas: tissue engineering, cell therapy, and organ growth and repair. These biology-based pillars will be strengthened and expanded by corresponding platforms in immune-engineering, supporting technologies and in data synthesis.

“This is the future of medicine,” said Dr. Rossant. “We are doing more than building on our 50 year legacy of excellence in this field of study, we are setting the stage for Ontario to be the nexus in the emerging revolution in health care – and Ontarians will be among the first beneficiaries.”

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About OIRM: Building on more than 50 years of world-leading research in stem cells and regenerative medicine, the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine (OIRM) was launched in 2014 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. More than 150 research programs at universities and institutions across the province are involved with OIRM, with additional contributions from key clinical, commercial and health charity partners. OIRM is based in Toronto and was realized with investment from Ontario’s Ministry of Research and Innovation. www.oirm.ca