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Expanded research facilities for Toronto’s Sunnybrook


Toronto, ON – Government approval has been given to Sunnybrook & Women’s College Health Sciences Centre to construct four floors on top of the M-wing at its Sunnybrook campus. The addition will house new laboratory space and core technology facilities for the Sunnybrook & Women’s Research Institute (SWRI). The new state-of-the-art infrastructure, comprising half of the four-storey building, will house research programs in breast cancer, angiogenesis, regenerative medicine (immunology) and neurosciences. The state-of-the-art infrastructure for these research initiatives inclwill include equipment for imaging, flow cytometry and scanning microscopy, and genomics and proteomics.

The other two floors of the building will be the future home of the obstetrics and gynaecology program and neo-natal intensive care unit that are currently located at Women’s College Hospital.

Research at SWRI currently spans the spectrum from basic science to translational research to knowledge transfer. The institute’s faculty have successfully internationally vetted awards from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and Ontario Innovation Trust, which is providing over $20 million in funding for the expanded research infrastructure.

At the Breast Cancer Research Centre, researchers have teamed to understand and eliminate breast cancer in a multidisciplinary program. In the area of angiogenesis, researchers are creating antiangiogenic therapies to stop this growth and spare patients the toxicity of chemotherapy. In diagnostic and interventional imaging, scientists are working on technology to identify tumours earlier and to detect the tumours’ boundaries for improved pathology analysis and surgical intervention. Other scientists are using molecular methods toward predicting disease outcome and developing tailored treatments.

Toronto Angiogenesis Research Centre (TARC), researchers are studying the mechanisms of blood vessel growth. They aim to prevent and improve treatment for diseases related to vessel growth, including heart disease, cancer and age-related macular degeneration. SWRI’s Robert Kerbel and Daniel Dumont, two of the world’s top angiogenesis scientists, who each hold Tier 1 Canada Research Chairs, are core investigators in TARC.

The McLaughlin Centre for Molecular Medicine (MCMM) aims to be a global leader in applying molecular discovery to clinical care. As a partner in MCMM, SWRI is focusing on harnessing the regenerative power of the immune system. Immunologists located in the new facilities for SWRI will work to advance the understanding of how the immune system works in health and in disease, thereby pointing the way to the development of vaccines and new treatments for immune disorders.

Finally, the multidisciplinary neurosciences research program’s main areas are mood disorders, neurodegenerative diseases and stroke. The linking focus on affect (mood), behaviour and cognition is focussed in the strategic priority areas of aging and women’s health.

Groundbreaking for the new M-wing is planned for the next 6-12 months, and the institute says it expects it to be ready for occupancy in early 2009. Around 100 staff are currently working at the centres. However, the institute says this number will likely grow as the facilities are completed, as the capital expansion will enable it to recruit and train new personnel, including scientists, laboratory staff, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students, thereby attracting/retaining scientific and technical talent to Canada.