Funding Propels Innovation at UHN

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Researchers awarded funds to support heart, cancer and neurology research infrastructure.
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Recipients of Canada Foundation for Innovation funding: (clockwise from top) Drs. Sara Vasconcelos, Trevor Pugh, Rodger Tiedemann, Suzanne Trudel and Gabor Kovacs.

Last month, UHN researchers were awarded nearly $1.4 million in funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation for cutting edge research equipment. The investment, provided through the John R. Evans Leaders Fund, will support the following three projects from the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, the Krembil Research Institute and the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre:

Cardiac Regeneration and Disease Modelling. Led by Dr. Sara Vasconcelos of Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, this project will develop realistic models of heart failure using advanced bioengineering methods. Dr. Vasconcelos will explore new regenerative medicine techniques to repair damaged hearts using stem cells and engineered blood vessels. The research will shed new light on the mechanisms of heart disease and how they are affected by related factors such as diabetes.

Defining Cancer and Immune Landscapes in Multiple Myeloma. A team comprising Drs. Trevor Pugh, Rodger Tiedemann and Suzanne Trudel of Princess Margaret Cancer Centre will use funding to advance research for multiple myeloma—a cancer that originates in the bone marrow and occurs in blood cells. The researchers will determine the genetic sequences of individual tumour cells to assess how these cells avoid detection by the immune system; find ways of boosting the immune response against cancer; examine the genetic features of multiple myeloma that enable the tumours to resist anti-cancer drugs; and reveal the primitive, cancer-initiating cells that are not destroyed by conventional treatments and that ultimately cause cancer re-growth.

Tracking down neurodegeneration in the human brain: from functional systems to the subcellular level. This project is being led by Dr. Gabor Kovacs at the Krembil Brain Institute and the Tanz Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Disease. Funding will enable the research team to evaluate the distribution of neurodegeneration-related proteins in the functional systems of the human brain in three dimensions. The project will also reveal—at the molecular level—the interactions among these neurodegeneration-related proteins, as well as how they interact with other pharmaceutically targetable proteins (ie, proteins such as cell receptors, which are located at the surface of cells). The research will lay the foundation for the discovery of therapeutic targets for neurodegenerative diseases and diagnostic tests that could help to widen the treatment window for these diseases.

Congratulations to Drs. Vasconcelos, Pugh, Tiedemann, Trudel and Kovacs!