Faculty of medicine members have been awarded more than $6.5 million in funding from the B.C. Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF) to drive innovation in B.C.
More than $22 million was awarded to 24 projects at UBC. The funding will help provide students and researchers access to the latest technology, tools and equipment to drive research. Past recipients of the BCKDF include faculty of medicine professor Dr. Pieter Cullis, who developed the lipid nanoparticle technology that allows the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine to enter human cells.
“UBC is home to some of the world’s top researchers, and this investment gives them access to cutting-edge scientific infrastructure that will support breakthroughs in fields like health care, clean technology, quantum science and agriculture,” said Santa Ono, UBC president and vice-chancellor in a release. “Whether it’s developing life-saving new drugs, ensuring literacy for all or creating novel technologies that give B.C. companies a competitive edge, this investment will promote a more healthy, innovative and sustainable society for all British Columbians.”
The BCKDF enables B.C.’s public post-secondary institutions and affiliated research hospitals to compete successfully for federal and private sector funding. This funding matches Government of Canada investments made through the Canada Foundation for Innovation.
“The BCKDF plays a crucial role in the modernization of our universities’ research infrastructure capacity and capabilities,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training, in a release. “By investing in technologically-advanced equipment and buildings, B.C. institutions will be well positioned to develop successful collaborations with industry and other partners.”
“We are proud to partner with the B.C. Knowledge Development Fund to invest in British Columbia’s teaching and research facilities,” said the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry in a release. “This partnership is helping B.C. universities rise to the challenges facing Canadians across the country – from combatting climate change to conserving our precious water resources, from fighting cancer to maintaining a high quality of life for our growing senior population – all while cultivating the top-notch talent we need to excel on the global stage.”
The research projects will contribute to B.C.’s economic plan to rebuild and grow the economy by improving B.C.’s productivity and competitiveness. Other benefits include potential commercialization, spin-offs and patents, as well as discoveries that directly impact the lives of British Columbians.
Faculty of medicine recipients
Project title: Cancer single cell dynamics observatory
The BCKDF funding will accelerate cancer research by providing researchers with specialized technology that analyses the genomes of single cells. This will advance the development of “precision oncology,” which uses the genomes of the patient and tumour to inform the choice of therapy that is most likely to benefit the patient. The research will provide insight into how cancer changes over time and factors that cause treatment resistance, leading to improved diagnostics and therapeutics for cancer patients in British Columbia.
Principal Investigator: Dr. Samuel Aparicio, department of pathology and laboratory medicine
BCKDF award: $2,396,810
Project title: Deciphering DNA-encoded gene-regulatory logic with genome-scale synthetic DNA
The BCKDF funding will be used to shed light on the complex genetic underpinnings behind common inherited diseases affecting British Columbians, such as autoimmunity and heart disease, which will pave the way for the development of cellular therapies and targeted treatments for patients.
Principal Investigator: Dr. Carl de Boer, School of Biomedical Engineering
BCKDF award: $125,000
Project title: DNA event recording technologies to decipher high-resolution dynamics of molecules and cells in mammalian development
The BCKDF funding will support the development of new genetic circuit devices that will advance understanding of complex biological systems and enable the development of innovative cell-based therapies for cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
Principal Investigator: Dr. Nozomu Yachie, School of Biomedical Engineering
BCKDF award: $400,000
Project title: Enabling Precision Health in COPD
The BCKDF funding will help uncover better ways to treat patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) using new molecular and imaging technologies. The research will support the development of innovative precision therapies that have the potential to improve the lives and enhance the health outcomes of millions of Canadians with COPD.
Principal Investigator: Dr. Don Sin, department of medicine
BCKDF award: $185,935
Project title: Investigating How Mitochondrial Stress Signaling Maintains Organelle Homeostasis in Health and Disease
The BCKDF funding will be used to study the role that mitochondrial damage plays in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The research will help uncover mechanisms to prevent this damage and develop new therapeutics to fight these otherwise incurable diseases.
Principal Investigator: Dr. Hilla Weidberg, department of cellular and physiological sciences
BCKDF award: $125,000
Project title: MiDAS Microbial Diversity Expansion for Applied Sciences
The BCKDF funding supports the development of new technologies that will expand the use of yeast for bioprocessing applications that benefit the environment, economy and health of British Columbians. These applications include the food and beverage industry (e.g., wine, beer, dough), removal of pollutants from the environment and the production of non-animal proteins, enzymes and new medicines.
BCKDF award: $3,276,459