Major investment for hospital-based research
By Sharon Gray
Newfoundland’s unique gene pool and the presence of excellent researchers at Memorial University and Eastern Health convinced the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) to select this province for one of only eight projects to be funded under the Research Hospital Fund.
Funding of $11.2 million was announced at a news conference Aug. 21 to support a new building to be constructed close to the Health Sciences Centre. This represents about 40 per cent of the financial support needed for the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Human Genetics, a joint project of Memorial’s Faculty of Medicine and Eastern Health.
Fabian Manning, member of parliament for Avalon, was joined by Suzanne Corbeil, vice-president, external relations and communications for CFI, to make the announcement at Memorial University. CFI is providing the funding for research in founder population effect in Newfoundland with a focus on human genetics research.
“The science and technology advancements of Canada’s research hospitals increase our research capacity and provide us with more effective products and services,” said Mr. Manning. “The investment we are making today will help us to improve the health and overall quality of life of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and all Canadians.”
“The importance of the Research Hospital Fund cannot be overstated,” said Ms. Corbeil. “It provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure that Canadian research hospitals remain at the forefront of health research in the highly competitive international research environment, and will assist them in retaining their world-class scientists, and in training the next generation of health researchers.”
“The Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Human Genetics will mean improved health for our province’s communities and communities around the world affected by genetic disease,” said Dr. Eddy Campbell, acting president and vice-chancellor of Memorial University of Newfoundland. “In addition, opportunities for commercial and economic benefit include the development of novel therapeutic drugs based on unique genetic discoveries, job creation and development of a skilled labour force. I would like to thank CFI for its support in these efforts.”
Dr. James Rourke, dean of medicine at Memorial, extended thanks to CFI on behalf of the Faculty of Medicine. “Without new research space, our research activities cannot grow. We are committed to a 30 per cent expansion in our medical education program, and the research expansion will go hand-in-hand with this. The government of Newfoundland and Labrador is strongly supportive of our research and the announcement of this new centre today fits closely with their strategy.”
Dr. Pat Parfrey, principal investigator for the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Human Genetics, emphasized the importance of the team of researchers involved in this project, including Drs. Terry-Lynn Young, Proton Rahman, Daryl Pullman and Bridget Fernandez. “This is a continuation of our partnership with Eastern Health. In this province with its founder population and population of 500,000 there are strong links between health care delivery and research. This funding announcement today is just a start to leverage all the funding we need to build this new space, said Dr. Partey.”
Joan Dawe, chair of the Board of Trustees of Eastern Health, said “we are delighted to be partners in this groundbreaking scientific venture, involving researchers, clinicians, graduate students and our communities as a whole. “Our vision is ‘Healthy People. Healthy Communities.’ And that is the objective of this fundamentally important research. A greater understanding of genetic predisposition – intervention and prevention rather than treatment after the fact – these are our common goals.”