The Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine and Medicine by Design invest $1.2M in technologies and research to advance innovation in regenerative medicine

May 26, 2017 – Twelve targeted projects and two post-doctoral fellowships that are expanding the frontiers of stem cell research will share $1.2 million in funding thanks to programs supported jointly by the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine (OIRM) and the University of Toronto’s Medicine by Design initiative.

The 12 projects, which were selected for New Ideas grants through a competitive, peer-reviewed process, will develop new research insights and technologies that could eventually improve therapies for a range of conditions such as autism spectrum disorder, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, osteoporosis, and lung disease. Harnessing the promise of regenerative medicine to treat these conditions could significantly improve the quality of life of patients and reduce health-care costs.

The partnership between OIRM and Medicine by Design enables the following projects, each receiving $75,000 for one year:

·         The impact of environmental pollutants on pancreas development, led by Dr. Jenny Bruin, Carleton University

·         A 3D model of muscle to study potential therapies for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, led by Dr. Penney Gilbert, University of Toronto

·         Tailoring donor lungs to control immune response before transplant, led by Dr. Stephen Juvet, University Health Network

·         Improving the creation of bile duct cells to model liver disease, led by Dr. Binita Kamath, SickKids Research Institute

·         A computational modelling platform to support imaging and tissue design, led by Dr. John Parkinson, SickKids Research Institute

·         Understanding radial glial cell response to neural injury at a single cell level, led by Dr. Bret Pearson, SickKids Research Institute

·         A therapeutic strategy for treating Duchenne muscular dystrophy, led by Dr. Michael Rudnicki, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute

·         Magnetic resonance imaging to assess stem cell treatments for lung disease, led by Dr. Giles Santyr, SickKids Research Institute

·         Autism spectrum disorder drug testing using human neurons, led by Dr. Karun Singh, McMaster University

·         Clinical investigation of cell therapy to treat age-related osteoporosis, led by Dr. William Stanford, University of Ottawa and the Ottawa Hospital

·         Making new blood vessels for life-threatening lung diseases in newborns, led by Dr. Bernard Thébaud, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute

·         New ways to stimulate the production of insulin-producing cells to treat diabetes, led by Dr. Michael Wheeler, University of Toronto

“Some of the most important advances in regenerative medicine, including the world’s first identification of stem cells here in Ontario, could not have happened without a supportive and collaborative environment,” said Dr. Duncan Stewart, OIRM’s President and Scientific Director. “These exciting new projects demonstrate the excellence of research in this province and I’m very pleased that we are able to leverage a collaborative partnership with Medicine by Design to support research and bring us closer to our goal of seeing made-in-Ontario solutions to serious diseases.”

“Medicine by Design is delighted to partner with OIRM to support these projects at a crucial early stage,” said Peter Zandstra, executive director of Medicine by Design. “By fostering innovation and discovery across our communities, we are setting the stage to strengthen Toronto, Ontario and Canada as global leaders in regenerative medicine.”

Today’s announcement also includes two postdoctoral fellowship awards that provide support for promising new researchers to pursue a specific line of research in bioengineering, stem cells and/or regenerative medicine. The two fellowships have been awarded to Yiming Wang in the lab of Dr. Slava Epelman at University Health Network, who seeks to better understand the role of specialized cells in promoting heart regeneration after a heart attack, and Arturo Ortin-Martinez in the lab of Dr. Valerie Wallace at the University Health Network, who will study strategies to improve retinal cell transplants for patients with vision impairments. This second award was also selected for co-funding by the Foundation Fighting Blindness, which will provide support over the award’s three-year duration.

This is the second time OIRM and Medicine by Design have partnered to offer New Ideas grants and post-doctoral fellowships.