Health Minister Terry Lake today announced $4 million provided to the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) to strengthen health research in British Columbia.
“Through partnerships with organizations like CIFAR, we’re working on providing researchers in B.C. with supports they need to answer the biggest health questions facing British Columbians, from cancer to asthma,” said Lake. “This plays a major role in shaping the province’s economy and competitiveness – aspects that are integral in supporting our strong BCTECH Strategy.”
In British Columbia, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research is supporting more than 60 researchers in a variety of areas including, determining how drugs might be designed to destroy cancer cells without affecting healthy cells, child health and development, and genomics. These projects include work by world-class researchers such as the University of B.C.’s Dr. Brett Finlay, co-director of CIFAR’s new Humans and the Microbiome program.
Dr. Finlay’s work with CIFAR focuses on the important role that microbes (including bacteria and viruses) play in human health. Microbes go beyond the ones like E. coli and salmonella that make people sick. Many microbes are critical to keeping us healthy. Recently, Dr. Finlay began work on the connection between early-childhood antibiotic use and asthma, and found four specific healthy bacteria that, if present in the first three months of life, reduce the risk of developing asthma.
“Starting right from CIFAR's beginnings, the Province of British Columbia has been one of our most important partners. We thank the Ministry of Health for its support for CIFAR and our mission to create transformative knowledge through the formation of collaborative global research networks of some of the top researchers in British Columbia and around the world,” said Dr. Alan Bernstein, CIFAR president and CEO.
This funding builds on previous investments to the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. Since 2003, the provincial government has provided $20.6 million to CIFAR. The institute uses the funding to strengthen B.C.’s research capacity by supporting researchers working on international partnerships, and building on existing knowledge and data gathering activities.
Investing in CIFAR attracts important partnerships to B.C. both nationally and internationally, and improves government efforts in recruitment and development in the technology sector, a central factor in the government’s technology strategy. The strategy, launched by Premier Christy Clark in 2016 is helping to support further growth and innovation of B.C.’s technology sector, which will contribute to the health of B.C. residents by helping identify targeted treatments to meet specific health concerns.
Past examples include leading-edge cancer treatment through personalized onco-genomics, life-saving innovations developed to monitor blood-oxygen levels during surgery, and new once-daily treatment to prevent hypoglycemia in diabetics.
“CIFAR’s role is extremely important. With their support, we are allowed the time to explore a problem and discuss it with top researchers from around the world,” said Dr. Finlay.
CIFAR is a private, non-profit organization that brings together top researchers from around the world to collaborate on innovative projects. It connects the Canadian research community to an international network that addresses problems of importance to the world.
Advances in technology lead to much more personalized and effective health care. Through the #BCTECH Strategy and support for organizations like the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, The Centre for Drug Research and Development, Genome BC, the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, the BC Cancer Foundation and BC Cancer Agency, the province continues to attract and retain talented researchers to work in B.C., and help improve care for patients and save lives.
Visit the #BCTECH Strategy: bctechstrategy.gov.bc.ca/
Learn about the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research: www.cifar.ca/