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$1.5M in grants for UBC as it receives innovation designation


Vancouver, BC and Markham, ON – The University of British Columbia became the only Canadian university and one of four worldwide to receive the prestigious IBM Life Sciences Institutes of Innovation designation, joining world class academic research centres Johns Hopkins University, the University of California San Diego and Indiana University.

The designation includes a cash and in-kind donation for bioinformatics research valued at more than $550,000 over three years. The grant money will be used for research in such areas as human genetic disorders, heart disease, adverse drug reactions in children and prostate cancer.

The IBM Institutes of Innovation is part of a global initiative to recognize academic research institutions making outstanding contributions to life sciences research, and to foster knowledge and technology transfer. UBC was also recently awarded two IBM Shared University Research grants (SUR) valued at over $1-million.

“IBM’s recognition of UBC as a life science innovator puts us alongside some of the most prestigious universities in North America and further strengthens UBC’s outstanding reputation for research,” says Donald Brooks, associate vice-president, research. “By providing both technology and funding for training positions, this program will accelerate advances in some of our most challenging research areas.”

UBC receives IBM funding to support bioinformatics research in four areas: UBC Bioinformatics Centre (UBIC) will work on developing a system to integrate data that will help researchers test theories about the mechanisms underlying human genetic disorders; the iCAPTURE Centre at St Paul’s Hospital will conduct research linking diverse data, such as clinical and biological information, to help find a basis of deciphering cause, consequence and control of common heart conditions.; the Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics will research better ways to identify children at risk for adverse drug reactions; and the Prostate Centre at Vancouver General Hospital will study how prostate cancer grows at the molecular level and develop new treatments.

“UBC is one of the world’s leading academic research institutions in life sciences, making it a logical choice for this designation,” said Carol Kovac, IBM, general manager, healthcare and life sciences industry. “IBM’s designation represents a more comprehensive commitment to institutions, including collaborative projects with IBM researchers. The convergence of life sciences and IT at UBC will expand discovery opportunities that will impact Canada and the world.”

IBM also recently awarded UBC two SUR grants of some of the latest technology available for high computing requirements. Francis Ouellette at UBIC received an IBM eServer pSeries p690 to perform new bioinformatics analysis looking at RNA interference. Peter Pare and Bruce McManus of iCAPTURE received an IBM eServer pSeries p570 for a research project to better understand organ transplant rejection.

IBM’s Shared University Research program grants computing equipment (servers, storage systems, personal computing products, etc.) to colleges, universities and institutions of higher education around the world to facilitate research projects in areas of mutual interest, including life sciences, grid computing, autonomic computing and deep computing. These SUR grants also support the advancement of university projects by connecting top researchers in academia with IBM Research personnel, representatives from product development and solution provider communities. IBM says it supports approximately 50 SUR awards per year worldwide.