Canada Renews Investment in Stem Cell Research
December 14, 2011 (Ottawa) - The Stem Cell Network (SCN), Canada's key means of pursuing excellence and global leadership in applied stem cell research, has been awarded its final tranche of funding, worth $19.2M through March 2015. The announcement was made today by the Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) Secretariat, following a review of the Stem Cell Network's progress and strategic plan.
"The Stem Cell Network exemplifies all the attributes of a successful network," said Verna Skanes, chair of the SCN Board of Directors. "We have facilitated collaborations, leveraged increased investment in the stem cell field and built an engaged and dynamic research community. Our strategic plan for the 2012-2015 period will have an important impact on innovation, knowledge and health for years to come.
"In its 10 year history, the Stem Cell Network complemented its funding from the NCE by securing over $47 million in partner funding for research projects, a greater than 1:1 match of research spending over the same period. Since 2007, the Network has also played a pivotal role in generating over $200M of public investment in the field of stem cell research, including $40M for the Cancer Stem Cell Consortium.
The independent Expert Review Panel convened by the NCE program was highly complimentary of the Network's performance in all five areas of its mandate, including Excellence of the Research Program, Development of Highly Qualified Personnel, Networking and Partnerships, Knowledge and Technology Exchange and Exploitation and Management of the Network.
"The Stem Cell Network has fulfilled the requirements of the NCE program in all of the five criteria with outstanding performance," the review panel said in their report. "The Expert Panel has no doubt that the Network has, and will continue to bring major benefits to Canadians."
Over the next three years, the Network will invest the majority of its funds into research projects that demonstrate the potential to make a major global impact and have tangible deliverables readily translatable to human health.
"Canada boasts some of the world's leading stem cell researchers," said SCN Scientific Director Dr. Michael Rudnicki. "We have no doubt that by leveraging our considerable strengths, particularly in the areas of tissue repair, as well as blood and cancer stem cell research, that we can move research forward into clinical trials."
Since 2001, the Stem Cell Network has catalyzed eight clinical trials in illnesses such as leukemia, pulmonary hypertension, solid tumours and eye disease. It plans to leverage another nine by the end of 2015.