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Sunnybrook receives $74.6M research award for image-guided therapeutics


Toronto, ON – The Canada Foundation for Innovation has awarded a $74.6 million award to Sunnybrook Hospital from the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) Research Hospital Fund.

This funding will establish the first-of-its-kind in Canada, Centre for Research in Image-Guided Therapeutics which will develop and test state-of-the-art medical imaging technologies and therapeutics including new vaccines, drugs, biological agents and imaging devices and translate them into clinical practice primarily in the areas of cancer, cardiac, musculoskeletal, and neurosciences.

“I would like to thank the federal government and CFI for this prestigious award. I am personally proud of our researchers, through whose work Sunnybrook Research Institute has tripled in size over the last five years to become one of the largest research institutes in Canada,” says Dr Barry McLellan, president and chief executive officer, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. “This grant will allow our research teams to take giant strides in improving the health of our patients, and achieving our vision of inventing the future of health care.”

“This is surely one of our most gratifying moments,” said Dr. Michael Julius, vice-president, research, Sunnybrook. “We are thrilled with the CFI’s recognition of the transformative potential of this research. Their investment is a tribute to our scientists and their teams, and the quality of the work we do here.”

The Centre for Image-Guided Therapeutics will add more than 100,000 sq ft of research space at Sunnybrook including two new floors, and will bring together 55 scientists and clinician-scientists from across the hospital along with more than 180 highly skilled research trainees. Unique facilities within the centre will include:

– Canada’s first biomedical device development lab where for the first time in one facility researchers will be able to conceive, engineer and produce complex medical devices such as imaging detectors and therapy delivery devices for clinical trials.

– The MRI-guided focused ultrasound surgery facility will be a world-first and will propel Sunnybrook Research Institute’s position as a leader to develop, assess and clinically translate MRI-guided focused ultrasound surgery devices. Clinical and basic researchers will work with industrial partners to develop and test focused ultrasound devices to treat uterine fibroids and cancer.

– The minimally invasive electrophysiology and vascular procedures facility will build on the expertise of Sunnybrook’s Imaging Research Centre for Cardiac Intervention and will further research in areas including regenerative cell therapies to repair the heart after a heart attack, and the use of MRI-guided electrophysiology to treat arrhythmias.

– The neurointervention facility will use image-guided technology to develop and improve treatments for stroke and dementia and to enhance recovery after stroke, and will facilitate the building of the world’s first focused ultrasound device to incorporate both low-intensity and high-intensity frequencies to further explore focused ultrasound’s usefulness in the delivery of drugs to the brain.

“With this award, we can build a centre that will be the only one of its kind in the country and perhaps the world,” says Dr Kullervo Hynynen, director, discipline of imaging, Sunnybrook Research Institute and Centre project lead. “The centre will help us continue innovative research in medical imaging with an emphasis on developing new therapeutics for which Sunnybrook is known globally and will also attract collaborators, industry partners and young trainees.”