Lab Canada

Newly opened Centre for Phenogenomics set to model the future of human health

Toronto, ON – The Toronto Centre for Phenogenomics officially opened today. Located in the heart of Toronto’s Discovery District, the state-of-the-art facility will enable groundbreaking research and discovery, with the goal of advancing human health.

Through modeling of disease, scientsts at the centre will focus on research in diabetes, cancer, musculoskeletal disease, cardiovascular and renal function, embryonic development, and learning and memory. “We are enabling research and we are doing research to make a difference in health care for Canadians,” says Dr Colin McKerlie, the TCP’s interim CEO, and a researcher who will be taking advantage of the TCP facilities.

The largest centre of its kind in Canada, the facility houses 110,000 gross sq ft of custom-designed laboratory space. It promises to be a cutting-edge provider of research tools, technologies and services, delivering “breakthroughs” such as advanced imaging techniques, and supported by the newest robotics equipment and technology.

The facility is being launched as part of Ontario’s response to university expansions, the growing innovation economy, and the resulting charge to increase the scientific research capacity of the province.

The initial concept originated with Dr Janet Rossant, a world leader in developmental biology. Dr Rossant led the grant application to the Canada Foundation for Innovation that quickly became a collaboration among four founding member research hospitals: Mount Sinai Hospital, St Michael’s Hospital, the Hospital for Sick Children, and the University Health Network, which encompasses Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital, and Princess Margaret Hospital.

“This collaboration is a promising response to increasingly constrained resources,” says Dr Rossant. “In this facility, we are not only collecting and sharing information, we are sharing decisions and ownership, vision and responsibility – expanding the capacity of each partner while contributing to the powerhouse that is Toronto’s health research community.”

Funding for the $69-million enterprise was a collaboration among different levels of government, the member hospitals, and industry. Sources included the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) ($26,771,045), the Ontario Government through the Ontario Innovation Trust (OIT) ($26,771,045), Member Hospital contributions ($11,427,717), and industry-based donations in kind ($4,183,717).

“This new facility defines cutting-edge, and exemplifies partnership,” says Dr Eliot Phillipson, president and CEO of the CFI. “The TCP will allow researchers from multiple institutions and disciplines to transform innovative ideas into groundbreaking research.”

The facility will be a training space for the next-generation of talented Canadian researchers whose work will help us understand the biology of disease, help identify and validate new drug targets, assess the genetics of drug responses, and on many fronts improve the long-term health of our population. And it will be a leader in the advancement of North American and global genomics efforts, attracting and retaining pre-eminent Canadian and international researchers and teams.