Canadian Stem Cell Foundation

27
Jul 2015
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Dr. Duncan Stewart (Ottawa Citizen)

‘It would be a shame for us to slide back’

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Canada is losing ground in the field it founded, says Dr. Duncan Stewart, one of the world’s leading stem cell scientists.…

Canada is losing ground in the field it founded, says Dr. Duncan Stewart, one of the world’s leading stem cell scientists.

“Generally, the pace (of funding) is slower and I think we are losing ground compared to other jurisdictions,” Dr. Stewart told the Ottawa Citizen’s Elizabeth Payne. “Canada has been a leader in this area. It would be a shame if we were to slide back.”

Dr. Stewart, Executive Vice-President of Research at The Ottawa Hospital,  recently published results of the world’s first clinical trial of a genetically enhanced stem cell treatment for pulmonary arterial hypertension, a deadly disease for which there is no cure. The  results are promising, but a larger study is needed to see if the new therapy can produce long-term results. The money to do it, however, just isn’t there.

As the Citizen article points out: “Just as the promise of potential new stem cell therapies is blossoming, research funding is more uncertain than ever.”

The reality is Canadian researchers are poised to deliver new cures for devastating conditions like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disorders like MS and Crohn’s, and neurological conditions like Parkinson’s, stroke and spinal cord injury. But it will take a coordinated effort to make that happen.

Our Foundation leads the coalition of researchers, medical professionals, health charities, industry leaders and philanthropists behind the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy & Action Plan. A bold private/public partnership, it would see Canada lead the way in delivering up to 10 new curative therapies within 10 years.

 

 

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03
Jun 2015
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James Price, President & CEO of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation, left, Sandra Henderson, Senior V-P of BMO Financial Group’s Eastern Ontario Division, and Tim Kluke, President & CEO of the Ottawa Hospital Foundation Credit: Erin McCracken, Ottawa South News

Investing in the future: BMO makes $1-million donation

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BMO’s  $1-million donation to support stem cell and regenerative medicine research in Canada is “an investment in the future,” says a senior executive with the leading financial institution.…

BMO’s  $1-million donation to support stem cell and regenerative medicine research in Canada is “an investment in the future,” says a senior executive with the leading financial institution.

“As the generations go on, it’s important for us to give back to the people we work with, we live with, who are in our communities,” Sandra Henderson, Senior Vice-President of BMO Financial Group’s Eastern Ontario Division, told Ottawa Community News.

The investment includes a $500,000 donation to the Ottawa Hospital’s Regenerative Medicine Program at the General campus’ Sinclair Centre, and $500,000 to the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation, of which $250,000 will go to the hospital’s new research initiatives and $250,000 to other national activities.

“By Canadian standards, that’s probably one of the largest corporate gifts specifically directed to stem cell research and regenerative medicine in the country,” James Price, Foundation’s President & CEO, told Ottawa Community News. “Canada is a leader in stem cell research, just as the Ottawa Hospital is.”

Currently, the Ottawa Hospital’s Regenerative Medicine Program has 250 scientists, research staff and trainees working at the Sinclair Centre for Regenerative Medicine and the Sprott Centre for Stem Cell Research.

The lab of Dr. Duncan Stewart, Executive Vice-President of Research at the Ottawa Hospital and Senior Scientist of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute’s Regenerative Medicine Program, has been renamed the BMO Financial Group Laboratory in honour of the bank’s financial contribution.

 

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29
Apr 2015
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Getting ready for Till & McCulloch Meetings 2015

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After last year’s conference in Ottawa, the Till & McCulloch Meetings are heading to Toronto.

The event — named in honor of Drs.

After last year’s conference in Ottawa, the Till & McCulloch Meetings are heading to Toronto.

The event — named in honor of Drs. James Till and Ernest McCulloch, who proved the existence of stem cells in the early 1960s — brings together Canada’s leading stem cell scientists, clinicians, bioengineers and ethicists, along with representatives from industry, government, health and non-governmental organizations from around the world.

This year’s agenda includes a special session with the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation, presented by James Price, Foundation President & CEO, and Dr. Alan Bernstein, Chair of the Board of Directors and President & CEO of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

The Till & McCulloch Meetings, organized by the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine, the Stem Cell Network and the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine and sponsored in part by the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation, will take place at the Sheraton Centre Hotel in Toronto from October 26-28, 2015.

Registration is now open. Click here for more details.

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01
Apr 2015
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Our Gairdner Group of Four

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The news last week that Dr. Janet Rossant had won the 2015 Gairdner Wightman Award should have come as no big surprise.…

The news last week that Dr. Janet Rossant had won the 2015 Gairdner Wightman Award should have come as no big surprise. The head of research at SickKids Hospital in Toronto, Dr. Rossant perfectly fits the profile of the Wightman winner:  a scientist who has demonstrated outstanding national leadership in medicine and medical science.

However, the announcement did give us another reason to celebrate:  it brought the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation’s Gairdner Award connections to four — so far.

Janet Rossant (CSCF)Dr. Rossant (1) who chairs our Foundation’s Science Leadership Council, has led the way in crafting Canada’s public policy regarding stem cell research and is the immediate Past President of the International Society for Stem Cell Research. She also is an articulate advocate for the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy & Action that sets out how Canada can lead the way to deliver five to 10 new stem cell therapies to the clinic within 10 years.  (See the Globe & Mail piece she co-authored here).

With the announcement, Dr. Rossant joins Dr. Alan Bernstein (2), Chair of our Board of Directors, as a fellow Gairdner Wightman winner.  Dr. Bernstein, now President & CEO of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, won the Wightman in 2008 for his “outstanding contribution to Canadian health research as a scientist, research institute director and as the inaugural President of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.”

Bernstein CroppedDr. Bernstein’s stem cell connection goes all the way back to his PhD studies with Dr. Jim Till, co-discoverer of stem cells (with Dr. Ernest McCulloch) in the late 1960s/early 1970s at the Ontario Cancer Institute (OCI). Dr. Till mentored Dr. Bernstein in much the same way that Dr. Bernstein encouraged Dr. Rossant when she came to work at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute (now the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute) at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital in 1985.

Jim TillDr. Till (3) is a Gairdner International Award winner, having picked up the prize with Dr. McCulloch back in 1969. His connection to the Foundation? He was original member of the Board of Directors when the Foundation began life in 2006 and has been a trusted advisor ever since.  In fact, his “Spleen Team” jersey, from when he led the OCI squad that unveiled the mysteries of hematopoietic stem cells, hangs in a place of honour in the Foundation’s office in Ottawa.

sam weissThen there is Dr. Samuel Weiss (4), who won his Canada Gairdner International Award in 2008 in large part for his 1992 discovery of neural stem cells in the brains of adult mammals, which sparked new approaches for brain cell replacement and repair. Dr. Weiss, who leads the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary, preceded Dr. Rossant as Chair of our Science Leadership Council and was also a member of the Foundation’s Board.

Quite honestly, we’re proud to be associated with these outstanding scientists. That they have chosen to help us as we advocate for the advancement of stem cell research and development to deliver safe, new and effective treatments for an array of diseases is truly inspiring. And we look forward to finding out who will be (5).

 

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25
Mar 2015
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Dr. Janet Rossant

Congratulations to Janet Rossant — Gairdner Wightman winner

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Today we are delighted to congratulate Dr. Janet Rossant on the announcement of her winning the 2015 Canada Gairdner Wightman Award for outstanding leadership in medicine and medical science in Canada.

Today we are delighted to congratulate Dr. Janet Rossant on the announcement of her winning the 2015 Canada Gairdner Wightman Award for outstanding leadership in medicine and medical science in Canada.

“Janet Rossant is not only an internationally acclaimed stem cell scientist, she has been a powerful force in moving the field forward and a leader in developing the roadmap for the future of our sector: the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy and Action Plan,” said James Price, President & CEO of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation. “She has played a key role in ensuring that Canada stands among the top nations in the world in one of the most exciting and promising areas of medical research — stem cells.”

Dr. Rossant, who chairs the CSCF’s Science Leadership Council, was a member of the Foundation-led Joint Strategy Working Group that developed the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy & Action Plan. Based on a private/public partnership, it sets out how Canada can lead the way to deliver five to 10 new stem cell therapies to the clinic within 10 years.

“Her efforts have been invaluable,” said Mr. Price, who co-authored a Globe & Mail opinion piece with Dr. Rossant in February that illustrated how the Strategy could position Canada as an international centre for conducting safe, high-quality clinical trials for new stem cell treatments. “No one knows the field — and the remarkable things it can do — better than Janet. We are deeply proud of her accomplishments, and are thrilled for her success and the recognition she has received today.”

In a Foundation-produced video, Dr. Rossant declares that, “Research can’t stand still. Scientific research is always moving forward. We are at an incredibly exciting time in science when we can understand the underpinnings of disease and begin to translate that into new diagnoses and therapies.”

Quick Facts

  • The Canadian Stem Cell Strategy & Action Plan calls for a $1.5-billion public-private investment over 10 years, including a $50-million scaled annual average commitment by the Government of Canada.
  • The Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine estimates the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy & Action Plan could generate more than 12,000 jobs for Canadians via the growth of existing companies and the development of new enterprises that reach global markets.
  • In 2013, more than $200 billion was spent on health care in Canada. Two thirds of that money was used to treat incurable diseases. Stem cell research, cell therapy and regenerative medicine are working towards treatment options for these diseases.
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17
Mar 2015
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Tricky science made simple, final chapter

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This week is Brain Awareness Week, a global initiative to raise awareness of the progress being made in brain research.…

This week is Brain Awareness Week, a global initiative to raise awareness of the progress being made in brain research.

To mark the occasion, we are unveiling a new video in our Stem Cell Shorts series that will come as good news to anyone who has ever struggled to understand the complexity of the human nervous system. It is a great resource for non-scientists to quickly grasp how the nervous system works and how stem cells can improve its functions.

“What is a neural stem cell?” is the final episode of the series launched in fall 2013 and produced by Ben Paylor, a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia, and Dr. Mike Long, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Toronto.

The last chapter is narrated by Dr. Sam Weiss, director of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary and the scientist who discovered neural stem cells in 1992. His discovery led to an understanding of how stem cells stimulate neural development throughout our lives. Currently, Dr. Weiss is leading research in neural stem cell biology with the ultimate goal of advancing patient care, prevention, treatment and management of devastating conditions, such as brain tumours, stroke and multiple sclerosis.

The remarkable video animation project includes seven other subjects:

  • “What is a stem cell?” narrated by Dr. Jim Till;
  •  “What are embryonic stem cells?” narrated by Dr. Janet Rossant;
  • “What are induced pluripotent stem cells?” narrated by Dr. Mick Bhatia;
  • “What is stem cell tourism?” narrated by Prof. Timothy Caulfield;
  • “What is a cancer stem cell?” narrated by Dr. John Dick;
  • “What is a retinal stem cell?” narrated by Dr. Derek van der Kooy; and
  • :What is a hematopoietic stem cell?” narrated by Dr. Connie Eaves

The Foundation joined the Stem Cell Network in funding the production of the Phase 2 of the project, which included five animated installments.

We hope you enjoy the final chapter of the series. And for those who missed some earlier episodes, they are available here.

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26
Feb 2015
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McLellan named chancellor of Dalhousie University

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When the Hon. A. Anne McLellan takes up her appointment as the seventh chancellor of Dalhousie University in May, she will be returning to the school that prepared to become an outstanding academic, a leading lawyer and a widely respected political figure.…

When the Hon. A. Anne McLellan takes up her appointment as the seventh chancellor of Dalhousie University in May, she will be returning to the school that prepared to become an outstanding academic, a leading lawyer and a widely respected political figure.

“I’m deeply honoured,” said Ms. McLellan in the University’s press release. “Dalhousie has been such an important part of my life, and the opportunity to give back as chancellor is one I would have never expected, but it’s a great privilege.” Ms McLellan studied arts and then law at Dal in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

A member of our Foundation’s Board of Directors, Ms. McLellan  works with the national law firm Bennett Jones LLP and is Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the University of Alberta in the Alberta Institute for American Studies. Prior to that, she held the positions of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. She also served as Minister of Health, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Minister of Natural Resources and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians. Before her time in  politics, Ms. McLellan was a law professor, first at the University of New Brunswick and then the University of Alberta.

“I hope that I’m able to bring the perspective of a woman who has had the opportunity of a first-class education, and who then was able to use that education in ways that have contributed to our collective well-being.” said Ms. McLellan.

 

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23
Feb 2015
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‘Let’s get this done’

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The Globe and Mail  today features an editorial pages article about the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy & Action Plan.

James Price, Foundation’s President and CEO, and Dr.

The Globe and Mail  today features an editorial pages article about the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy & Action Plan.

James Price, Foundation’s President and CEO, and Dr. Janet Rossant, Interim Director of the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine and immediate past president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, co-authored the article, headlined ‘Make Canada a magnet for stem cell trials’. Exploring the impact of experimental stem cell treatments abroad, the piece makes the case for Canada to build on its expertise in stem cell research and development to become the location of choice for high quality clinical trials.

“The real impact of many of the experimental stem cell treatments offered abroad is a question mark.” said the authors. “A better solution is made-in-Canada treatments. Give Canadians access to safe, cutting-edge and rigorously reviewed stem cell clinical trials here in Canada. Once fully proven, these treatments would be available across the country.” they added.

canada stem cells

Although several stem cell-related clinical trials are already under way in Canada (you can read about the recent announcement of a new stem cell trial for MS on our blog), there is the potential to do more.The Strategy & Action Plan will see Canada lead the way to bringing five to 10 new safe and proven therapies to the clinic within 10 years.

“Canadians should not need to travel abroad where experimental treatments are unproven and could carry serious health risks. We all want our loved ones to have access to the best care available when they need it. So let’s get this done.”

You can read the full version of the Globe and Mail article here.

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19
Feb 2015
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‘All we have to do is get it right’

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An article about the benefits of the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy & Action Plan is featured in the online version of Policy Options, Canada’s premier public policy journal.…

An article about the benefits of the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy & Action Plan is featured in the online version of Policy Options, Canada’s premier public policy journal.

Titled ‘How Canada can capitalize on its stem cell technology,’ the piece was written by Dr. Alan Bernstein, President and CEO of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and Chair of our Foundation’s Board of Directors, Dr. Allen Eaves, President and CEO of STEMCELL Technologies Inc., and James Price, our Foundation’s President and CEO. It illustrates how Canada can lead the way in stem cell science and translate research into five to 10 new therapies over the next 10 years.

“If we get it right, we can reduce human suffering from chronic, debilitating diseases, ease the burden on an overstressed health care system that is currently costing more than $200 billion a year, boost our economy by creating thousands of new high-skill jobs and own an area of advanced technology that was born in Canada.” said the authors.canada stem cells

“Canada’s role in all of this is vital. We have enormous scientific credibility, given that Canadians virtually founded the field: James Till and Ernest McCulloch proved the existence of stem cells more than 50 years ago at the Princess Margaret Hospital and went on to train and inspire subsequent generations of scientists who have positioned Canada at the leading edge.”

The print version of the article will be available soon in Policy Options, March-April 2015 edition.

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13
Feb 2015
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Tricky science made simple, Valentine’s edition

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When we think of Valentine’s Day, we think of hearts. And when we think of hearts, we think of their life-sustaining role of pumping blood.…

When we think of Valentine’s Day, we think of hearts. And when we think of hearts, we think of their life-sustaining role of pumping blood. But where does that blood come from? How does it get made?

A great resource to find answers to those questions and understand the role of stem cells in blood formation is now available. “What is a hematopoietic stem cell?” narrated by Dr. Connie Eaves is the latest video in Stem Cell Shorts series that explains how hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) produce new blood cells.

Contained in the bone marrow, HSCs can produce new blood cells or regenerate the blood production system. In fact, bone marrow transplants have treated patients with a variety of blood cancers and disorders, including multiple myeloma, leukemia and lymphoma for decades.

Dr. Eaves, a professor in the Department of Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia, is a leader in the field of hematopoietic stem cell biology. Her work has led to advances in treatment for leukemia. Currently, she is researching the unique properties of normal and cancerous stem cells in a variety of tissues to improve treatments for breast cancer and leukemia.

The new video, produced by Ben Paylor, a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia, and Dr. Mike Long, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Toronto, is co-sponsored by the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation and the Stem Cell Network.

All the videos — including “What is a stem cell?” narrated by Dr. Jim Till, “What are embryonic stem cells?” voiced by Dr. Janet Rossant, “What are induced pluripotent stem cells?” narrated by Dr. Mick Bhatia, “What is stem cell tourism?” voiced by Prof. Timothy Caulfield, “What is a cancer stem cell?” narrated by Dr. John Dick, “What is a retinal stem cell?” voiced by Dr. Derek van der Kooy and “What is a hematopoietic stem cell?”  – are now available on the Foundation’s You Tube channel. Click here to view them.

The final instalment of the series,“What is a neural stem cell?” narrated by Dr. Sam Weiss, will be released soon. Stay tuned!

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