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New institute to study regenerative medicine


Toronto, ON – A new institute has been set up in Ontario to study the diseases of aging, and at the same time the first three awards being funded under the new institute have been announced, with a total of $3.1 million in funding.

The new institute, the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine (OIRM), was established by the Ontario Stem Cell Initiative (OSCI) and the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM) with the funding coming from Ontario’s provincial government.

Combining research, development and commercialization, the new institute will focus on the translation of stem cell research into curative therapies for major degenerative diseases.

“The OIRM allows us to leverage Ontario’s leading-edge research capacity in stem cells and regenerative medicine to transform the future treatment of degenerative diseases,” said Janet Rossant, interim director, OIRM. “Ontario is the birthplace of stem cell discovery; it’s wonderful to be able to continue this legacy.”

Peter Zandstra is the co-director of OIRM. For now, OIRM will operate from the offices of the Ontario Stem Cell Initiative (OSCI).

The initial projects being funded are as follows:

The Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine (OIRM) Grant Funding Awards:

(1) OIRM Disease Challenge Team Grant Awardees (Principal Investigators): $250,000 per project:

  • Gordon Keller, University Health Network. Fixing damaged hearts with heart muscle derived from stem cells.
  • Valerie Wallace, University Health Network. Restoring vision in macular degeneration through stem cell therapies.
  • Mick Bhatia, McMaster University. Developing novel stem cell strategies for immunotherapy.

(2) OIRM New Idea Grant Awardees (Principal Investigators): $75,000 per project:

  • Rama Khokha, University Health Network. Production of a synthetic environment for liver stem cell expansion.
  • James Ellis, SickKids Research Institute. Control of RNA translation into proteins in human stem cells, neurons and disease.
  • Peter Zandstra, University of Toronto. Engineering a functional human thymus from pluripotent stem cells.
  • Duncan Stewart, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. Role of short RNA fragments in mediating the anti-inflammatory effects of bone marrow stem cells in sepsis.
  • John Coles and Jason Maynes, SickKids Research Institute. A personalized approach to correction of genetic heart defects.

(3) OIRM Postdoctoral Fellowship Awardees: $50,000 per fellowship:

  • Lisa Marie Julian, Stanford Lab, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
  • Bin Gu, Rossant Lab, SickKids Research Institute
  • Scott Yuzwa, Kaplan Lab, SickKids Research Institute