Lab Canada

Stem cell and water research excellence networks get extended funding

Dartmouth, NS – The Canadian Water Network and Stem Cell Network have both received extended research funding from the federal government.

The Canadian Water Network was created in 2001 to develop opportunities related to the provision of safe, clean water. In collaboration with universities, governments and industry, the network has initiated a variety of creative scientific projects and initiatives that address key water-related issues.

For its initial three years, the network was comprised of 30 projects organized under three research programs, involving 120 researchers, 160 collaborators and 170 graduate students. Researchers and students represented 31 universities and research institutions from every Canadian province.

With the completion of its second major call for proposals in February 2005 it will welcome 21 new research projects, 52 new researchers, 5 new universities and over 150 new students as partners and members of the Network.

Headquartered at the University of Waterloo, the Nntwork will receive up to $3.7 million per year.

The Stem Cell Network is a not-for-profit corporation, established in 2001, that brings together more than 70 leading scientists, clinicians, bio-engineers, and ethicists, with the mandate to investigate the immense therapeutic potential of stem cells for the treatment of diseases currently incurable by conventional approaches. Headquartered at the University of Ottawa, the Stem Cell Network will receive up to $5.3 million annually.

Scientific activities include:

– the exploration and characterization of novel stem cells, and progenitor cells, that may have therapeutic prospects,

– a focus on six disease areas where Canada can have an impact have been identified and are being supported by the network. They are Parkinson’s disease, stroke, diabetes, visual impairment, myocardial and skeletal muscle regeneration and Haemophilia A. In addition, network researchers have isolated previously uncharacterized stem cell populations from various adult tissues.

– the development of the only coordinated project worldwide to address questions concerning the extent and mechanisms of “plasticity” or the ability of cells to switch function.

– generation of a portfolio of genes and proteins present in and on different types of stem cells and mature cells. This information will be useful to scientists as they better understand why stem cells grow, die or differentiate in the manner that they do.

The funds are awarded following a review of the network’s research plans and priorities, knowledge transfer activities, training activities, and scientific accomplishments. The review is required at the mid- point of their seven-year funding cycle to demonstrate that they continue to meet the Networks of Centres of Excellence program’s evaluation criteria and add value to their field of activity.

The NCE program is managed jointly by the three federal granting agencies – Science and Engineering Research Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council – in partnership with Industry Canada.