Minister Holder Announces Legacy Investment in Research To Create Life-Saving Cells, Tissues and Organs

The University of Toronto project is the first recipient of the federal government’s $1.5 billion Canada First Research Excellence Fund

July 28, 2015—Toronto, Ontario—Tri-Agency Institutional Programs

Canadians could soon see new treatments and cures for serious diseases and injuries such as blindness, cancer, diabetes, heart and liver disease thanks to a legacy investment by the Government of Canada into a new, world-leading medical research program at the University of Toronto. This investment will save lives while creating high-value Canadian jobs and helping to grow the medical industry in Canada.

The Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology), accompanied by Bernard Trottier, Member of Parliament, Etobicoke-Lakeshore, made the announcement as part of the government’s Canada First Research Excellence Fund, which supports world-leading research at Canada’s universities and colleges.

The $114 million federal investment for the “Medicine by Design” initiative draws on the strengths of Canada’s top health research, medical institutions, businesses and organizations, including partners such as the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research, the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, and the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine. This is the largest single research investment in history at the University of Toronto.

Medicine by Design will strengthen Canada’s position as a global leader in the field of regenerative medicine. Already a recognized global force in areas such as stem cell biology, biomedical engineering, nanotechnology, imaging, and cell and organ transplantation, the University of Toronto will further cement its leadership role as this project aims to use stem cells to treat and cure a range of injuries and chronic degenerative diseases.

Today’s announcement follows an open and competitive selection process among Canadian post-secondary institutions. The competition was judged by a panel of Canadian and international scientific experts.

Quick facts

  • Launched in December 2014 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Canada First Research Excellence Fund will invest $1.5 billion over seven years to propel Canadian colleges and universities to excel globally in research areas that create long-term economic advantages for Canadians.
  • Today’s award is part of the Fund’s first $350 million competition.
  • The Fund is administered by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) on behalf of the three granting agencies: the SSHRC, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
  • Since 2006, the Government has invested more than $13 billion in new resources to support basic and applied research, talent development, research infrastructure, and innovative activities in the private sector.
  • As set out in Economic Action Plan 2015 and the renewed science, technology and innovation strategy, the Government is committed to supporting world-class research talent and infrastructure that is essential to advanced discoveries in both the public and private sectors.


“Our government is investing in research and innovation to create jobs, strengthen the economy and improve the quality of life of Canadians. This legacy investment in Medicine by Design will harness Canada’s strengths in regenerative medicine to treat and cure serious injuries and diseases that impact every Canadian family while creating new opportunities for Canadian health-related businesses.”

—Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology)

“The Canada First Research Excellence Fund has provided Canadian post-secondary institutions with an unparalleled opportunity to take their leading-edge research and make it the best in the world. This will set them on course to make the ground-breaking discoveries that will enhance prosperity and change the lives of Canadians and millions around the world forever.”

—Ted Hewitt, President, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada; and Chair, Canada First Research Excellence Fund steering committee

“This historic award will strengthen the University of Toronto’s position, in partnership with our affiliated hospitals, as a world leader in regenerative medicine. I thank Minister Holder and the Government of Canada for their support of our brilliant researchers and clinicians, and I thank them for their leadership in the advancement of globally competitive Canadian research and innovation. The Canada First Research Excellence Fund is a key factor in the success of our leading research universities. It is also a necessary component ensuring Canada’s long-term capacity for innovation.”

—Meric Gertler, President, University of Toronto

“Stem cells offer avenues to treat–and perhaps cure–devastating and costly illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, blindness, lung disease, neurodegenerative disorders, and diseases of the blood and musculoskeletal system. Medicine by Design provides a framework to design the cells, the materials and, ultimately, the clinical strategy needed to reach this goal.”

—Dr. Peter Zandstra, Canada Research Chair in Stem Cell Bio-engineering, Professor in U of T’s Institute for Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering

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Scott French
Director of Communications and Parliamentary Affairs
Office of the Honourable Ed Holder
Minister of State (Science and Technology)
Tel.: 343-291-2700

Michael Adams
Communications Advisor
Canada First Research Excellence Fund
Tel.: 613-944-1758
Cell: 613-219-7523

Michael Kurts
Executive Director, Communications Partnership
University of Toronto Communications
Tel.: 416-978-5947
Cell: 416-272-4734