University President Dr. Axel Meisen (L) and Newfoundland
and Labrador Premier Roger Grimes (R) and greet Ludwig
Hantson, president of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada
Inc., at the second Health Research Showcase held in Montreal
on June 11. The showcase was aimed at increasing awareness
of health sciences research that is done at Memorial University.
By Sharon Gray
The second Newfoundland and Labrador Health Research Showcase
in Montreal June 11 was successful in bringing together about
70 people, half from the pharmaceutical industry, to explore
the range of the province’s expertise in health research
with representatives of the province, the health care sector
and Memorial University.
Roger Grimes, premier of Newfoundland and Labrador addressed
the showcase and affirmed his government’s commitment
to supporting the growth of health research and development
in the province. He cited in particular the inclusion in the
recent budget of a $5 million research and development fund
and the recent call for proposals to establish a venture capital
Memorial president Dr. Axel Meisen said this second showcase
provided a new forum to communicate with representatives of
the pharmaceutical industry. The first Health Research Showcase
was held in Toronto March 4. Dr. Meisen noted that the university
provides the facilities and expertise to conduct much of the
medical and health research in Newfoundland and Labrador,
one-third of which is funded by the private sector.
“Research investments at Memorial University have not
only led to new discoveries but have also served to increase
valuable employment opportunities and to increase the capacity
for training of highly qualified personnel. This second research
showcase is a very important element in promoting an increased
awareness of our research capabilities. It will help develop
new partnerships with industry that will benefit patients
and researchers throughout the world.”
Dr. Ian Bowmer, dean of medicine, described the event as “very
successful” and noted that the presence of officials
from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), the
government of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Health Care
Corporation of St. John’s showed the high level of commitment
of all those concerned with health research in the province.
He thanked the premier for his government’s investment
There were four research presentations. Dr. Dale Corbett,
professor of neurosciences and Senior Canada Research Chair
in Stroke and Neuroplasticity, described his research on stroke.
Dr. Proton Rahman, assistant professor of internal medicine/rheumatology,
CIHR New Investigator and Arthritis Society of Canada Scholar
talked about Population Choice in Applied Genomics.
A presentation about the genetics of obesity was made by Dr.
Guang Sun, an assistant professor in the Discipline of Genetics
who holds the Novartis Professorship in Pediatric Genetics.
Dr. Christopher Kovacs, associate professor of medicine (endocrinology),
obstetrics & gynecology, and basic medical sciences made
a presentation titled Of Mice and (Wo)men: Novel approaches
in osteoporosis research.
Concluding remarks were made by Dr. Christopher Loomis, Memorial’s
vice-president (research). He said many partnerships with
industry are critical to provide the necessary funding to
leverage research dollars through agencies such as the Canadian
Institutes of Health Research, the Canada Foundation for Innovation,
and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. He said Memorial
is committed to double the current level of research activity
by 2005 and gave several examples of partnership opportunities
that will assist in achieving this objective.
Pharmaceutical company representatives also had the opportunity
to see the work of the Faculty of Medicine’s Office
of Professional Development, a recognized national leader
in continuing medical education (CME), distance education,
and new media learning. Its innovative research and development
model and partnering strategy have fostered many fruitful
projects including the national online CME initiative MDcme.ca
and representatives of the office were on hand to provide
information and make new business contacts.