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What's happening at McMaster

McMaster University is home to some of the country’s, indeed the world’s, most advanced research institutes, centres and facilities.  Spread across the disciplines are more than 100 research units pursuing new opportunities in strategic areas, engaging with industry to move research out of the lab and into communities where it can change lives for the better.  In its initial stage, BEAM will be directly connected with two of McMaster's prominent research facilitiies -- the McMaster Immunology Research Centre and the Biointerfaces Institute.

 

The McMaster Immunology Research Centre (MIRC)

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occupies 36,000 square feet of space on the 4th and 5th floors of the Michael DeGroote Centre for Learning and Discovery and is home to 12 principal investigators, 5 research associates, 108 research trainees (PDFs, grad students, undergrad students), 33 research technicians and 3 administrative assistants.  MIRC scientists study immune regulation at the mucosal tissues which stand between internal organs (e.g. lungs, digestive tract, mammary ducts) and the environment. These tissues are not only the primary defense from infections, but the mucosal tissues also regulate other diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer and allergies. Research from the centre has spawned a novel vaccine for tuberculosis, innovative methods for cancer treatment, new perspectives on the mechanisms and treatment of food allergy, and creative strategies to prevent and manage lung disease.  With regard to BEAM, MIRC scientists are developing novel cell therapies for cancer that provide a feeder stream for technologies that can be commercialized by BEAM.  Further, the infrastructure that has been developed within MIRC for clinical trials of cancer cell therapies is unparalleled in Canada and provides an ideal conduit for evaluation of BEAM’s novel manufacturing technologies.

 

The Biointerfaces Institute (BI)

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has the ability to rationally and rapidly develop new biomaterials with surfaces engineered to have the appropriate interactions with the intended biological environment. Using the latest technologies in high-throughput synthesis and screening to prepare and screen biointerfaces and biomaterials, the 9,000 square foot facility has state of the art equipment with dedicated, professional research scientists. The ability to prepare and characterize thousands of different materials on a surface the size of a microscope slide combined with the potential to know almost immediately how an artificial material might react with biological entities, will lead to the accelerated development of better biosensors and better medical implants. The Institute is available as a testing lab for industrial partners and as a centerpiece for the development of biosensors and diagnostics to aid in commercialization of sensor technologies. The Biointerfaces Institute is a world leader in the development of advanced sol-gel based biomaterials, biosensor technologies and high-throughput drug screening platforms and has ten additional core faculty members with expertise in high-throughput synthesis, surface characterization, polymer chemistry, bioassay development and opthalmic biomaterials, with backgrounds in Chemistry, Chemical Biology, Biochemistry, Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering.  The technologies and scientific expertise within the BI will prove to be central to the success of BEAM as sophisticated sensor technology will be required for optimizing automated cell production and the low-cost disposable biosensors produced at the BI provide a platform for innovation in the manufacturing of point-of-care diagnostic devices.

 

The McMaster Manufacturing Research Institute (MMRI), one of the country's most advanced

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and best equipped research laboratories, combines research excellence with state-of-the-art equipment to meet the sophisticated research and development needs of leading manufacturers. Created in 2000 with more than $10 Million in funding from its founding sponsors; the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the Ontario Innovation Trust (OIT) and the Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund (ORDCF) and industry partners; the MMRI provides a focus for high-profile research and serves as a vehicle for university-industry-government interaction. In addition the institute promotes, encourages, and performs fundamental and applied research in cooperation with its industrial partners and provides systematic mechanisms for technology transfer and infusion of knowledge and research results.  The knowledge in manufacturing process development within MMRI is an ideal resource for BEAM.

 

McMaster’s School of Biomedical Engineering (SBME) trains HQP working in areas

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at the interface of medical science and engineering, including biomedical and clinical scientists, engineers, physicists, and chemists.  The tremendous conceptual and technological advances in biological and medical sciences over the past decade, coupled with parallel advances in information technology, instrumentation, biomaterials, and nanotechnology have revolutionized the way we think about and investigate biological problems. In addition, these advances have also significantly influenced how we apply that knowledge to the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of diseases and other health-related issues. Currently there is a wide gap between researchers trained in life sciences and those trained in engineering – a gap that represents an impediment to progress in many health related areas. The McMaster School of Biomedical Engineering (SBME) was established to train professionals who are equally at home in both biomedical and engineering environments. We are at the forefront of training a new breed of health care professional who are capable of integrating into research studies and embracing and utilizing new technologies.  SBME trainees and BEAM scientists will establish a mutually beneficial reciprocal relationship as the trainees benefit from the cutting-edge technologies within BEAM and BEAM benefits from the energy and creativity of the young scientists in the SBME.

 

The following research centres also cover research areas that may benefit BEAM R&D and may provide a source of technologies to be commercialized through BEAM:

 

Established in 2006, the McMaster Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute (SCCRI) represents a unique research facility in Canada. The Institute's vision and mandate is to explore the underlying cellular and molecular origins that initiate human cancer by employing human stem cells and tissue regeneration. The SCCRI houses impressive shared facilities designed to help mitigate the high cost of human stem cell research that has made entry and sustainability of the field prohibitive for investigators worldwide. The SCCRI’s team of scientists are on the cutting edge of human stem cell research. With expertise in epigenetics, signaling pathways, cancer stem cells, reprogramming and pluripotent stem cells, they have integrated a distinct collective of experience to produce ground-breaking research and novel approaches to fill in the gaps of our understanding human cancer and tissue regenerative processes in the human. In addition, the SCCRI has made astounding progress in complementary efforts of other stem cell programs and centers in Canada and around the world. With its particular focus in human stem cell research, the SCC-RI provides graduate students and postdoctoral fellows an unprecedented opportunity to pursue this specialized human stem cells training in Canada. The Institute also continues to provide an open forum to educate the public about this important research and work with sectors developing ethical guidelines and policy for therapeutic applications to assure Canadians will receive the best healthcare possible.

 

The Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR) was established in 2007 and is founded on principles of interdisciplinary collaboration, research excellence, and commitment to training the next generations of infectious disease researchers and clinicians. The Institute’s members are from three faculties and eight departments at McMaster University. More than 400 graduate students, post-doctoral and clinical fellows research various programs funded by provincial, national, and international peer reviewed agencies as well as the private sector. The research programs pursued at the IIDR are: Chemical Biology, Bacteriology, Virology, Fungal research, Modeling and Epidemiology and Environmental Biology.

 

The Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute encompasses its leadership role in research, innovation and training as it relates to intestinal diseases. The Institute’s mission is to: understand the causes of chronic gastrointestinal diseases that are prevalent in society, and to develop new strategies for their diagnosis, treatment and prevention; provide a productive and innovative training environment; and maintain excellence in research at an international level.

There are 16 full members of the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute. These members conduct their primary research within the institute’s facilities. There are 13 associate members who conduct collaborative research with the institute’s members.  The Farncombe Institute includes Canada’s only gnotobiotic laboratory and houses a metagenomics platform that includes a Roche 454 rapid DNA sequencer. There is a clinical research centre within the institute that conducts clinical trials, meta-analyses epidemiological studies conducted in affiliated hospitals as well as on a national and international basis. The institute has a large complement of technical staff, graduate students and research fellows as well as administrative staff.

The Canadian Centre for Electron Microscopy was established to provide Canadian and international researchers world-class facilities to study materials at unprecedented spatial and energy resolution. The concept of the Centre was developed in late 2002 and a proposal to the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Government was submitted in 2003 based on the interests of over 100 researchers from 24 Canadian Universities from coast to coast. Following a positive review of the proposal in the national round competition in 2004, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, McMaster and the Company FEI established a partnership to create the Centre. The mandate of the centre is to provide unique electron microscopy capabilities and expertise to researchers working on a broad range of materials research. The CCEM's vision is to be one of the leading electron microscopy facilities in the world for the quality of the scientific research and for promoting interactions amongst researchers in various fields nationally and internationally while being one of the premier facilities for training researchers.

 

The Population Health Research Institute* (PHRI) was founded in 1999 and is now the largest and most cited academic cardiovascular research group in Canada.  The PHRI’s vision is to conduct large simple studies to address questions of international importance and relevance. PHRI has conducted more than 50 global trials and epidemiological studies in more than 1500 centres in 83 countries, involving over 500,000 patients.  The research programs explore the causes and prevention of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and societal influences on health, perioperative vascular complications, and stroke. The institute is involved in researching risk factors for heart disease and stroke in urban and rural populations, developing countries, and throughout the stages of life, with specific emphasis on variations by ethnicity and geographic region.

 

PHRI also plays an active role in the education of individual researchers, and in building capacity internationally for the development of global research programs. PHRI is home to more than 250 researchers, physicians, scientists, epidemiologists, biostatisticians, rehabilitation experts, nutrition scientists, research coordinators, allied health professionals, and quality assurance personnel, as well as research and administrative support personnel.  PHRI also has highly-experienced operational support teams in information and communication technologies, financial and contract services, and human resources. Research out of the PHRI has led to more than 800 publications in the last 10 years in prestigious medical journals such as The New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, the Journal of the American Medical Association, British Medical Journal, Circulation, Journal of the American College of Cardiology and the European Heart Journal. Several of the discoveries made by scientists at the PHRI have influenced prevention and treatment practices worldwide.

 

The Thrombosis & Atherosclerosis Research Institute* (TaARI) objective is to carry out basic, clinical, and epidemiologic research in thrombosis, atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular disease including venous thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, coronary heart disease, arrhythmias, congestive heart failure, cardiac thromboembolism, cerebrovascular disease, and peripheral vascular disease. The scope of the research is broad, extending from the basic laboratory to the bedside and beyond into the local, national and international communities. A unique feature of TaARI is that the research is driven by clinically relevant problems which, if solved, have the potential to be translated rapidly into more efficacious and cost-effective patient care or preventive strategies.

 

*Both TaARI and the Population Health Research Institute are located within the David Braley Cardiac, Vascular and Stroke Research Institute at the Hamilton General Hospital. The Research Institute is a six-storey building comprised of 200,000 square feet of research space, laboratories, meeting rooms, offices and breakout spaces. It also houses Canada's largest biobank which stores more than 1.8 million tissue and genetic research samples from approximately 250,000 participants globally. The total project, including state-of-the-art equipment, totalled close to $100 million.