Canadian Stem Cell Foundation

07
Mar 2016
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Coordinated approach to stem cell R&D can mean more than cures

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The latest edition of Re$earch Money magazine asks an intriguing question:

“Is half a billion dollars too big a budget ask to cure chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s that account for the bulk of Canada’s health care costs?”

The article, available here, profiles the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation’s  Pre-Budget Submission to the House of Commons Finance Committee calling on the federal government to commit $250 million in 2016 and an equal amount five years later to support the $1.5 billion Canadian Stem Cell Strategy. …

The latest edition of Re$earch Money magazine asks an intriguing question:

“Is half a billion dollars too big a budget ask to cure chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s that account for the bulk of Canada’s health care costs?”

The article, available here, profiles the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation’s  Pre-Budget Submission to the House of Commons Finance Committee calling on the federal government to commit $250 million in 2016 and an equal amount five years later to support the $1.5 billion Canadian Stem Cell Strategy.  The federal outlay will be doubled with more than $1 billion from other sources, including the private sector, philanthropists, health charities and other partners.

Foundation President & CEO James Price told Re$earch Money that the government has been receptive to the case that he and coalition members have been making for the Strategy in the lead-up to March 22 tabling of Budget 2016.  “Our proposal is strongly aligned with what we’re hearing in terms of the government’s proposed innovation agenda looking at investments that target key growth sectors for Canada that have the ability to attract investment, grow competitive export-oriented companies and diversify the economy.”

The article points out that the lion’s share of private funds would come from STEMCELL Technologies Inc., a Vancouver-based firm that plans to invest  $350 million to $500 million in R&D over the Strategy’s 10-year time span. “If you want faster results (from stem cell research) you need a coordinated approach across Canada and that requires money,” says Dr. Allen Eaves, STEMCELL’s President and CEO.

 

 

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01
Feb 2016
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CBC report highlights need for ‘big investment’ in stem cells

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A CBC News report highlights the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy and encourages the Government of Canada to make the next big investment in stem cells and regenerative medicine.…

A CBC News report highlights the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy and encourages the Government of Canada to make the next big investment in stem cells and regenerative medicine.

The article, published online yesterday, can be found here.

Headlined “Canada’s stem cell research needs ‘big investment’ to move forward” it quotes Dr. Janet Rossant, President & Director of the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine, as saying Canada does “extremely well on relatively small investments,” but we are not investing the same percentage in stem cell research and development as some of our competitor countries.

Reporter Joseph Quigley cites figures from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research that show the Government of Canada has invested about $705 million in stem cell research since 2001, including $64.5 million in the 2014-15 fiscal year.  In comparison, he notes, California — with a population similar to that of Canada — committed $3 billion in funding in 2004, to be rolled out over about 10 years.

“We’ve been at the forefront, we need to make that next big investment to move the field forward,” says James Price, President  & CEO of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation.

The Canadian Stem Cell Strategy, he points out, is focused on delivering 10 new curative therapies to the clinic in 10 years while producing 12,000 jobs for Canadians.

 

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16
Jan 2016
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Drew Lyall

Stem cell community loses a treasured friend

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The stem cell community is mourning the loss of one of its most cherished champions, Andrew David Lyall.

Mr. Lyall — Drew to all who knew him — was the inaugural executive director of the Stem Cell Network and, over 12 years, helped build it into an internationally respected research and development powerhouse.…

The stem cell community is mourning the loss of one of its most cherished champions, Andrew David Lyall.

Mr. Lyall — Drew to all who knew him — was the inaugural executive director of the Stem Cell Network and, over 12 years, helped build it into an internationally respected research and development powerhouse. He died at the Élisabeth Bruyère Hospital in Ottawa on Saturday a few days shy of his 50th birthday after an eight-year battle with melanoma.

“He did more than anyone who wasn’t a scientist to advance the field of stem cells in Canada,” said James Price, President and CEO of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation, where Mr. Lyall previously served as a director. “He emulated the spirt of collaboration that can be traced back to James Till and Ernest McCulloch and that has been vital to the field’s success over the past 15 years.”

Dr. TilI, the surviving partner of the research duo that proved the existence of stem cells more than 50 years ago, credited Mr. Lyall with persuading stem cell scientists across Canada to integrate their efforts. “Drew played a crucial role in the success of the Network, which built an extraordinary community of researchers and scholars. It also played an important role in the establishment of several other innovative initiatives, such as the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation. The impact will be felt for years to come.”

While dealing with his own imminent death, Mr. Lyall remained a model of calm dignity.  He kept friends up to date via a lively and often funny private blog. When his treatment shifted from therapeutic to palliative care he was realistic but unfailingly upbeat. He posted that he had “enjoyed a life to be very grateful for” and encouraged friends to write letters to their own children, as he had done, telling them “what you value about them, the good times you have had, and things you wished you had done together.”  An organizer to the end, he used his time in the hospice to create a namesake fund at the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation.

Dr. Connie Eaves, a leading stem cell scientist who helped put the Stem Cell Network together, recalled how Mr. Lyall made an indelible impression during his job interview.

Ron Worton (the Network’s founding Scientific Director) briefed me about Drew just before we were to interview him — me by teleconference — for the top position in the admin group. Drew’s intelligence and thoughtfulness, combined with that irresistible enthusiasm for working in the discovery arena with not too many rules, were captivating. We were so lucky he came on board. The world has lost a very special and good person.”

Mr. Lyall’s influence was felt well beyond Canada’s borders. A founder of the International Consortium of Stem Cell Networks, he worked closely with colleagues around the world, urging them to pool their talents in the service of finding cures and saving lives.

“It was his unique leadership style that allowed all of these different countries to come together and share a joint perspective of what was possible,” said Nancy Witty, CEO of the International Society for Stem Cell Research. “There were few people who could bring his special personality to making all of us friends and colleagues that care about one another.”

That style might best be described as disarmingly casual, relaxed bordering on rumpled. He could step up to a conference podium unfazed that his shirttail was untucked and enthrall an audience with an engaging presentation delivered in a butterscotch brogue that had lost none of its flavour since he relocated to Canada from Scotland in late 1992.

“He was unbelievably intelligent, but you didn’t necessarily realize it right away because he was not the pressed, corporate type,” said Shannon Sethuram, who worked closely with Mr. Lyall at the Stem Cell Network for five years and more recently at BioCanRx, another federally funded research network.  “There was something very casual about him that spoke to his confidence in who he was. He was, bar none, the best person I have ever worked with.”

Mr. Lyall was born on Jan. 21, 1966 in Edinburgh. He was the son of David Lyall, a Presbyterian minister, and Margaret Lyall and a brother to Catherine Slatter. He studied politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford but was an accountant by profession. He relocated to Canada to be closer to Suzanne Loch, an Ottawa school teacher he had met while travelling. They married in 1993 and have two children Heather, 15, and Matthew, 12.

“Drew was just passing through Canada when he met Suzanne on a train, and, being totally and understandably charmed, he decided to extend his stay,” said Patrick Lafferty, a mentor to Drew when he came to work at the Ottawa office of Coopers & Lybrand (which later became Pricewaterhouse Coopers — PwC).  “Our United Kingdom  firm had an enviable model of hiring the best and brightest liberal arts graduates from their leading universities and then teaching them accounting and auditing. Drew would happily accept any challenge as an opportunity, begin thinking it through, come back a few days later, challenge some of the assumptions, and then offer some real insights on how to best pull it off.”

Mr. Lafferty admired Mr. Lyall’s zest for life. “From the beginning, he threw himself into his first baseball game, his first hockey game, every office party, charity fundraising and sporting event,  and of course, into his delightful wedding to Suzanne.”

Though not particularly athletic — he played recreational soccer and took skating lessons — Mr. Lyall was an avid sports fan who faithfully followed long-suffering Hibernian FC of North Edinburgh’s Leith. The “Hibs,” he wrote in his blog, “haven’t won the main Scottish cup for 114 years now.” He knew they were not very good, said close friend Randy McIntyre, “but he was quite proud of them.” In Canada, he quickly adopted American football, travelling to Wisconsin to see his beloved Green Bay Packers play and purchase Cheesehead hats for his children.  Over the Christmas holidays, he was able to leave the hospice for a morning of watching “footie” with friends over a full English breakfast at an Ottawa pub. He tracked the ups and downs of the Ottawa Senators right up to a few days before his death.

Mr. Lyall travelled extensively, visiting more than 80 countries, but left the world regretting that he was never able to visit Machu Picchu, the Incan citadel of Peru’s Andes Mountains. A voracious reader, he Lyall, could speak as knowledgeably about the popular novels of Nick Hornby as he could debate Clayton M. Christensen’s theories on the impact of disruptive technologies on established industries.

With no science training to speak of, he quickly grasped the subtleties of the complex field he championed. A quiet but persuasive force, Mr. Lyall didn’t feel the need to be regarded as the smartest person in the room. “But he often was,” said Dr. Michael Rudnicki, the Stem Cell Network’s Scientific Director and CEO. “True leaders don’t bully their way forward. They prepare the ground. He was a builder who wanted to do great things.”

Dr. Rudnicki believes Mr. Lyall’s professional legacy is the community of stem cell scientists spread across Canada who agreed to work together collaboratively under the Network banner. “The nature of the community reflected who he was and how he dealt with people.”

Dr. Janet Rossant, President and Executive Director of the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine, agreed. “Drew was a true stem cell hero,” she said. “He was the glue that brought the Network together, whether driving the science, advocating on the Hill for a cord blood stem cell bank, or leading the party at the annual Network pub night.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Prof. Tim Caulfield, Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy at the University of Alberta. “A master at bringing people together, Drew did much to help build Canada’s stem cell community. He always seemed to be at its centre.” And by Dr. Sam Weiss, Director of the University of Calgary’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute: “Drew was a warm and wonderful person to know, have a drink with and to share the achievements of collaboration and friendship.”

Mr. Lyall was one of the key people responsible for getting stem cell researchers to embrace the concept of commercializing their work so that it could be carried forward to clinical therapies. Dr. Michael May, President and CEO of the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine said his organization, spun out of the Network, wouldn’t exist without Mr. Lyall’s contributions.

“Drew played a critical role in having the academic community embrace us, helping facilitate connections with the academic partners,” said Dr. May. “He helped me, personally, make those founding connections within the Canadian community and abroad too. He was very generous with his time, his insights and his network.”

Mr. Lyall also helped develop CellCAN, the Regenerative Medicine and Cell Therapy Network, created to accelerate progress in cell-based therapies. “Drew and the Stem Cell Network have been a driving force in uniting the centres involved in cell manufacturing and enabling the translation of findings at the bench to patients in need of novel and efficient therapies,” said Dr. Dénis Claude Roy, CellCAN’s CEO. “Drew’s trust and involvement were crucial to generate CellCAN.”

Mr. Lyall, who was also an alumnus of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, left the Stem Cell Network in 2013 to become a director general with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. However, he was lured away last year when Dr. John Bell launched BioCanRx to advance anti-cancer biotherapeutics.

“Early on, I approached Drew for some quick tips about how best to put together a network proposal,” said Dr. Bell. “I left with a lot more than advice. Drew instilled in me a vision of what a network could be and the value it could bring to cancer patients. Once we were awarded the grant, I knew I needed a great CEO to make it all it could be. In almost no time, Drew was able to bring together a very experienced and motivated team and get BioCanRx launched, which reflected how much people enjoyed working with him. Every day I worked with my friend Drew was fun — he had an awesome sense of humour — and made me confident that BioCanRx will be a success.”

Prof. Bartha Maria Knoppers, Director of the Centre of Genomics and Policy at McGill University, admired Mr. Lyall for “always reaching out beyond borders and disciplines,” and saw him as “a true gentleman whose candour and insight immediately attracted trust and participation.”

Dr. Fabio Rossi, Acting Director of the University of British Columbia’s Biomedical Research Centre, said Mr. Lyall was one of the most charming people he ever worked with. “His infectious optimism and enthusiasm motivated all around him. He truly was the Network’s centre of gravity, and responsible for much of the cohesion that made it a success.”

Dr. Rudnicki, who worked side by side with Mr. Lyall for many years at the Network, said his death marks a tremendous loss not just to his family, friends and colleagues, but for health science. “He had so much more to contribute.”

(Joe Sornberger, Director of Communications Programs for the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation, is the author of Dreams & Due Diligence — Till and McCulloch’s Stem Cell Discovery and Legacy. The quotes included here were collected through interviews and email correspondence.)

 

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13
Jan 2016
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Prime Minister Trudeau at today's announcment

Trudeau announces investment in cell manufacturing centre

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Today’s announcement of a new centre for advanced therapeutic cell technologies in Toronto is an investment in health-related technology, says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Today’s announcement of a new centre for advanced therapeutic cell technologies in Toronto is an investment in health-related technology, says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“The health of Canadians is a priority,” Prime Minister Trudeau said at the announcement. “We believe that supporting this new, world-class facility will have significant benefits for innovative health-related technology in Canada and around the world.

GE Healthcare and the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario will invest a combined $40 million in partnership with the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM) to build the centre in Toronto’s MARs discovery district, which is operated by a not-for-profit corporation to commercialize publicly funded medical research and other technologies.

According to a news release, the centre will speed the development of cell manufacturing technologies to improve patient access to new therapies.  Scaling up the quantity of stem cells to the vast numbers required for transplantation while ensuring the purity and quality of those cells is vital to moving the regenerative medicine field forward.

James Price, President and CEO of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation, attended the Toronto event and said the investment will enhance capacity to implement the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy, the private-public partnership that will deliver up to 10 new curative therapies to the clinic within 10 years.

“It’s key piece to the puzzle,” he said, noting that state of the art cell-manufacturing facilities are operating in Laval, Montreal, and Ottawa and that one will open its doors in Edmonton this summer.  “These kinds of developments boost Canada’s overall ability to produce cells and attract clinical trials so that we can begin delivering new treatments to a number of diseases.”

Michael May, President and CEO of CCRM, added: “We have built a strong industry consortium of nearly 50 companies to help drive a collaborative approach to realizing the potential of regenerative medicine. GE Healthcare already plays a leading role in that consortium and the company’s deep knowledge of the bioprocessing industry, combined with its global scale and health care insights, makes it the ideal anchor partner for the new centre.”

Kieran Murphy, CEO of GE Healthcare’s Life Sciences business, says it is “increasingly clear that cell therapies and regenerative medicine will transform health care globally, but successful industrialization is now crucial to widespread adoption. This new centre will enable us to work with cell therapy companies to push beyond existing technical limits and problem-solve.”

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03
Nov 2015
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(Lisa Willemse photo for OIRM) Stem cell co-discover Jim Till and award winner Tim Keiffer

On the verge of new treatments that will change lives

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We are at a crucial moment in time for stem cell research and development in Canada.

For almost two decades the field of stem cells and regenerative medicine “has been long on promise, short on product,” according to a feature article in the current issue Biotechnology Focus magazine.…

We are at a crucial moment in time for stem cell research and development in Canada.

For almost two decades the field of stem cells and regenerative medicine “has been long on promise, short on product,” according to a feature article in the current issue Biotechnology Focus magazine.

But that is changing quickly, the article points out.  In clinical trials underway across Canada, researchers are using stem cells to treat diabetes, heart attacks, osteoarthritis and spinal cord injury to name just a few. There is a growing feeling that the field is on the verge of delivering new treatments that will change the lives of patients suffering from chronic, debilitating diseases.

That sentiment was also on display at last week’s Till & McCulloch Meetings in Toronto. The Canadian Stem Cell Foundation is a partner  with the retiring Stem Cell Network, the Canadian Centre for Regenerative Medicine and the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine, who co-host the premier stem cell event in Canada. It brings together some 400 scientists, clinicians and industry leaders to share insights into how to move the field forward.

Chosen as the 2015 Till & McCulloch Award Winner, Dr. Timothy Kieffer of the University of British Columbia gave the keynote lecture at the closing session and shared his optimism at the progress his lab and others are making towards defeating diabetes.

Drawing from a paper published in Nature Biotechnology last year, he described how his team reversed diabetes in mice using insulin-producing cells derived from human stem cells.  Looking forward to moving his work into clinical trials, Dr. Kieffer says it’s just a matter of time before stem cells provide the needed source of cells to replace insulin injections, sparing millions of diabetics of the need for needles and rigorously monitoring their blood sugar levels several times a day.  He predicts this will happen within 10 years.

In short, good things are happening. Obstacles are being overcome. Cures are on their way. The horizon is getting closer and we can see the possibilities more clearly now.

 

 

 

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14
Sep 2015
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Globe & Mail: Want a flourishing economy? Invest in stem cell R&D.

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How can Canada’s leadership hopefuls nurse our ailing economy back to health without leaving it susceptible to the global viruses of the resource and manufacturing sectors?…

How can Canada’s leadership hopefuls nurse our ailing economy back to health without leaving it susceptible to the global viruses of the resource and manufacturing sectors?

By investing in stem cell research, according to the Globe & Mail’s list of 15 ways to create a flourishing economy.

On Saturday, the Globe’s Eric Andrew-Gee wrote that  while “pulling things out of the ground and hammering steel have been pillars of Canada’s economy for at least a generation,”swings in global demand have often left the country in the economic lurch. The Globe polled economists and public policy gurus to produce 15 smart ideas “that wring as much as possible out of the old economy and help a new economy flourish.”

Stem cell research is Number 10. The article noted that stem cell research “was invented in 1960s Toronto. So, some researchers have asked, why not make Canada a ‘magnet’ for such research today?”

While the federal government has indicated it understands the potential economic and disease-curing benefits of stem cells — most recently with at $114-million, seven-year grant to the University of Toronto — “more can be done,” given that California, with a population similar to Canada’s, has already invested $3 billion.

The Globe’s article resonates with sentiments expressed in an Aug. 24 op-ed by James Price, Canadian Stem Cell Foundation President and CEO. Published in iPolitics, the article makes it clear that “Canadians across the country want and need a national stem cell effort.”

Such a plan is ready. The Canadian Stem Cell Strategy & Action Plan was developed by Canada’s top researchers, medical professionals, health charity leaders, industry partners and to position Canada to deliver up to 10 new curative therapies to the clinic within 10 years. While federal funding is needed to launch the program, two-thirds of its support will come from non-federal sources.

Help boost the economy and save lives. Tell the politicians seeking your vote that you support the stem cell Action Plan. Just click here. It takes less than two minutes.

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08
Sep 2015
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T&M Meetings bring together top minds in stem cell field

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Our Foundation is proud to be a major sponsor of the Till & McCulloch Meetings, Canada’s premier stem cell research event.…

Our Foundation is proud to be a major sponsor of the Till & McCulloch Meetings, Canada’s premier stem cell research event.

Named after Drs. James Till and Ernest McCulloch, the conference brings together Canada’s leading stem cell scientists, clinicians, bioengineers and ethicists, as well as representatives from industry, government, health and NGO sectors from around the world. The 2015 Till & McCulloch Meetings will take place in Toronto from October 26-28, 2015 at the Sheraton Centre Hotel.

For more information about the conference or to register click here.

This year’s session will feature several scientists whose innovative research has been highlighted in this space, including Drs. Jeff Biernaskie, Connie Eaves, Tim Kieffer and Ivar Mendez. As well, Foundation President & CEO James Price and Board Chair Dr. Alan Bernstein will update delegates on the progress being made to secure support for implementing the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy & Action Plan. To show your support for the Strategy, click here.

 

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20
Aug 2015
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Dr. Brian Goldman

More than politics: why health – and stem cells – should be an election issue

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Dr. Brian Goldman, host of CBC Radio’s weekly medical show White Coat, Black Art, wants to know why health care has fallen off the discussion table in this year’s federal election.…

Dr. Brian Goldman, host of CBC Radio’s weekly medical show White Coat, Black Art, wants to know why health care has fallen off the discussion table in this year’s federal election.

In his blog, he points to the Maclean’s magazine “Federal Issues 2015” rundown of what the federal parties are talking about during the election and notes the following:

“Terrorism made the list. So did defence spending. Jobs, crime, climate. No problem. Heath care? Nada.”

Dr. Goldman, an emergency room physician when he’s not broadcasting his view-from-the-front-lines show on the state of health care, wants to know why party leaders aren’t talking about our struggling health care system and what they might do to fix it.

We agree. Our Foundation has been actively advocating for the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy & Action Plan — a private-sector led plan to deliver up to 10 new curative therapies within 10 years. The Plan aligns the key players — scientists, doctors, industry experts, health charity leaders and philanthropists — to follow through on the promise of stem cells to come up with cures that have baffled medical science for centuries.  You can watch a short video of what scientists doing the research hope to do here.

Health — and stem cells’ role in health care — should be a major election issue.  Health is always top of mind for all Canadians. In early 2014, Abacus Data reported that health care was the number one issue for Canadian voters — well ahead of taxes and job creation. Just last Christmas, the Toronto Star’s political columnist Susan Delacourt predicted that health care would be one of two sleeper issues of the 2015 election campaign:

“…rather than ask the pundits for their predictions about the ballot-box issue for the 2015 election, maybe we should be asking what was on the minds of people around the holiday dinner table this week (besides seconds or desserts). My bet? Health care and seniors’ issues. If Canadian families are not already grappling with health-care concerns at this immediate moment, many are expecting to be juggling matters related to senior care, especially as the population ages.”

So where did health go as an election issue?

Stuff happened. When the price of a barrel of crude oil drops from $107 US to hovering just above $40, it tends to grab the attention of everyone living in a country with a resource-based economy. Canada has also suffered two deadly acts of terrorism this past year, heightening our fears about security in a troubled world. And now the Mike Duffy trial has replaced the weather as the topic du jour at backyard barbecues.

It’s a shame, because our health is absolutely paramount to everything in life. It is a rare Canadian family without someone — an elderly parent, a partner, a child, a niece or nephew — who is struggling with a debilitating, chronic health condition.

Stem cells were discovered in Canada and Canadian researchers are on the verge of delivering stem cell cures for devastating conditions like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, MS & Parkinson’s. We need the Action Plan to make it happen right here, right now. Beyond saving lives, it would also ease the strain on health care — and boost the economy.

We are calling on the Government of Canada and all political parties to commit to contributing just one-third of the investments, about $50 million annually over 10 years.  You can find out everything about the Action Plan here. Then you can call on your local federal politician to support the Action Plan.

Because this is not just a political issue.  It’s more than an election issue.

It’s a life and death reality that touches us all.

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10
Aug 2015
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Dr. Andy Becker

Andy Becker: stem cell pioneer and ‘amazing’ researcher

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Dr. Andy Becker, one of the true pioneers of stem cell science, has died in Toronto at age 80.

Dr.…

Dr. Andy Becker, one of the true pioneers of stem cell science, has died in Toronto at age 80.

Dr. Becker was the lead author of the 1963 paper, published in Nature, that definitively demonstrated the existence of stem cells. Using chromosomal markers, he retraced their steps after they had generated the three types of precursor cells needed to make blood.

“It was a key contribution to our early experimental investigations of stem cells,”Dr. Jim Till, who was Dr. Becker’s PhD  advisor at the time, wrote via email. “His combination of talent and persistence was what was needed to complete this challenging and innovative research. I’m still amazed at what he accomplished. I doubt if anyone else, at that time, could have succeeded in the way that Andy did.”

Dr. Becker worked closely with Drs. Ernest McCulloch and Till who, in 1961, had successfully shown that single cells drawn from bone marrow could produce colony-forming units containing the precursor cells required to make white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. That paper laid the foundation for stem cell science.

A third Till & McCulloch paper — also published in 1963 but with Dr. Lou Siminovitch as lead author –proved that stem cells not only differentiate into new cells but also have the capacity to self-renew in order to keep the process going throughout our lifetimes. Combined, the three papers essentially defined stem cells and set the stage for regenerative medicine.

Dr. Becker’s paper proved just how tenacious a researcher he  could be. The chromosomal marker method was nothing if not painstakingly frustrating, given the rudimentary technology available at the time. In the University of Toronto Press book Dreams & Due Diligence, Dr. Becker’s wife, Prof. Clelia Ganoza, explains that he had a “killer instinct” for research, which meant that “the goal is the important issue and the obstacles to overcome are just needed lessons towards this end.”

As the Toronto Star obituary explains, Dr. Becker, who was also a medical doctor, not only did seminal work with stem cells but contributed greatly to the development of recombinant DNA technology.

Here at the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation, our hearts go out to Dr. Becker’s family, especially Prof. Ganoza, his wife of 47 years.

 

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28
Jul 2015
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Stem cell co-discoverer Dr. James Till at left with Dr. Peter Zandstra (CBC News)

$114-million research investment builds stem cell momentum

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Today’s announcement that the federal government will invest $114 million over seven years in the University of Toronto’s “Medicine by Design” research initiative comes as exciting news to every Canadian excited about the potential of regenerative medicine to save lives.…

Today’s announcement that the federal government will invest $114 million over seven years in the University of Toronto’s “Medicine by Design” research initiative comes as exciting news to every Canadian excited about the potential of regenerative medicine to save lives.

This is a significant momentum-builder for the field,” says James Price, President and CEO of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation. “It is great to see our country developing the assets it needs to make it increasingly possible to implement the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy & Action Plan.”

The Foundation supported the grant application – part of the federal government’s $1.5-billion Canada First Research Excellence Fund for universities and colleges – when the bid was submitted last winter. The Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology) made the announcement in Toronto.

“Stem cells offer avenues to treat – and perhaps cure – devastating and costly illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, blindness, lung disease, neurodegenerative disorders, and diseases of the blood and musculoskeletal system,” Dr. Peter Zandstra, a Medicine by Design leader and member of the Foundation’s Science Leadership Council, says in the Government of Canada’s press release.

The Strategy & Action Plan, developed by a coalition of researchers, medical professionals, health charities, industry leaders and philanthropists, sets the course for Canada to lead the way in delivering up to 10 new curative therapies within 10 years.  The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research and the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine, both partners in the Medicine by Design initiative, played key roles in developing the Strategy.

Mr. Price calls Medicine by Design an important research-focused step toward building a vibrant regenerative medicine ecosystem that can deliver new therapies to the clinic. “We look forward to working with the University of Toronto on this important project.”

 

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