AbCellera, Aéro Montréal, Alliance for the Aerospace Recovery, Amarin Corp., Anti-Corruption and Accountability Canada, ARTMS Inc., Banff International Research Station, BC Cancer, Brigham and Women's Hospital, California Institute of Technology, Canada Council for the Arts, Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions, Canada Foundation for Innovation, Canada Revenue Agency, Canadian Blood Services, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canadian Mathematical Society, Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization, Chronic Pain Centre of Excellence for Canadian Veterans, Community Innovation Program and the College-Industry Innovation Fund, Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies, Council of Canadian Academies, DarwinAI, DCVC Bio, Deerfield Management Company, Department of Justice, DMZ, DMZ Ventures, Ebbu, Eli Lilly and Company, Fonds de recherche du Québec, Founders Fund, Harvard Medical School, Health Charities Coalition of Canada, Héma-Québec, Historica Canada, HLS Therapeutics Inc., Indian Statistical Institute, International Development Research Centre, Lawson Health Research Institute, Life Sciences Ontario, Lockheed Martin, McGill University, McMaster University, Mitacs, Montreal Neurological Institute, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, New York Blood Center, NewLeaf Brands Inc., OpenText, OrbiMed, Presight Capital, Rideau Hall Foundation, Ryerson Futures Inc., Ryerson University, Sanofi Pasteur, SaNOtize Research and Development Corp., Shift Health, St. Michael's Hospital, Stem Cell Network, TRIUMF, University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, University of California, University of Minnesota, University of Rochester, University of Saskatchewan, University of Toronto, University of Victoria, University of Waterloo, University of Wisconsin, Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization – International Vaccine Centre, Viking Global Investors, and Whistleblowing Canada Research Society



The Short Report – May 27, 2020: DMZ and Ryerson Futures merge; Canadian psychedelic research gets boost; CFI launches $25-million competition; progress on a homegrown COVID-19 vaccine; and more

Debbie Lawes
May 26, 2020

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council has awarded $76 million for 128 new applied research projects at colleges, cégeps and polytechnics. Funded through the tri-agency College and Community Innovation Program and the College-Industry Innovation Fund from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the investments will connect colleges with local companies, particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises, to collaborate on projects that further the development of new products and technologies in priority areas such as clean energy, artificial intelligence and agriculture. – NSERC

Ryerson University has announced that its DMZ incubator is merging with Ryerson Futures Inc. to offer students and startups a broader suite of support services, from ideation to commercialization. The new entity will be rebranded DMZ Ventures (DMZV).  DMZ executive director Abdullah Snobar will serve as DMZV’s inaugural CEO. – DMZ

Vancouver-based startup ARTMS Inc. has raised $26.4 million CAD ($19 million USD) in Series A financing to further the development of its QUANTM Irradiation System, designed to provide hospitals with a cost-effective, decentralized and local supply of medical isotopes. ARTMS will use the financing to work with industry partners to develop the system, which helps produce the world’s most-used diagnostic imagine isotope through a cyclotron. The founding technology originated from TRIUMF, BC Cancer, the Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization, and Lawson Health Research Institute. The recent financing round was led by New York-based Deerfield Management Company. – Newswire

NewLeaf Brands Inc., Vancouver, is selling up to $2 million in stock to fund its psychedelic medicine research programs in Canada. The Vancouver cannabinoid (CBD) company recently hired Robert Roscow, the former research director of Colorado hemp company Ebbu, as its new chief science officer, who will be responsible for developing psilocybin mushroom products for the health and wellness markets. – Newswire

The Chronic Pain Centre of Excellence for Canadian Veterans has officially opened its doors at McMaster University. Announced in Budget 2019, the centre will receive $20 million over five years, with $5 million annually per year ongoing, to conduct research into pain management therapies. The centre’s research will be shared with a network of academic institutions as well as university- and community-based clinics across Canada. – GoC

University of Waterloo spinoff DarwinAI has teamed up with Lockheed Martin to improve how the aerospace giant’s customers understand and leverage artificial intelligence. DarwinAI’s Generative Synthesis platform and its GenSynth Explain product focus on “explainable AI”, which attempts to illustrate for its users how neural networks reach decisions. “Understanding how a neural network makes its decisions is important in constructing robust AI solutions that our customers can trust,” said Lee Ritholtz, director and chief architect of applied artificial intelligence at Lockheed Martin. – GlobeNewswire

The University of California (UC) has become the largest academic institution in the United States to fully divest from fossil fuels. The university has sold more than $1 billion USD of assets from its pension, endowment and working capital pools, surpassing its five-year goal of investing $1 billion USD in clean energy projects.  Research Money recently reported on how some Canadian universities have adopted similar strategies to cut fossil fuels from their investment portfolios. – UC

Canada’s Stem Cell Network (SCN) has released a study – Training Tomorrow’s Research Leaders – highlighting the impacts of nearly 20 years of targeted skills training on the country’s emergent regenerative medicine sector. SCN launched in 2001, in part to build a critical mass of researchers in the field, and since then has trained about 3,000 Masters, PhDs and postdoctoral fellows. Its impact analysis tracked 1,500 current and former trainees and found that 82% have chosen to pursue careers in Canada, with a significant number of women taking on high-quality jobs within the growing biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry. The full study and summary fact sheets can be found here. – SCN

The Rideau Hall Foundation (RHF) has partnered with Historica Canada to create a series of animated videos exploring Canadian innovations that have made the world a better and safer place. The four-part series features innovation stories from Ingenious: How Canadians Made the World Smarter, Smaller, Kinder, Safer, Healthier, Wealthier and Happier, written by former Governor General of Canada David Johnston, and Tom Jenkins, chair of OpenText. – RHF


Vancouver biotech firm AbCellera has raised US$105 million from a group led by US early-stage financiers OrbiMed and DCVC Bio, backed by an investor syndicate that includes Viking Global Investors, Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, Founders Fund, Eli Lilly and Company, University of Minnesota, and Presight Capital. AbCellera, which is collaborating with Eli Lilly to develop a treatment for the novel coronavirus, will use the funds to expand its workforce, open a new 48,000 sq. ft. R&D facility in 2021 and build a GMP manufacturing facility for production of biologics for clinical testing using its proprietary antibody discovery engine. The company is aiming to start clinical trials in July. – AbCellera

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) has launched a $25-million competition to support research infrastructure for COVID-19-related projects from all academic disciplines. Eligible institutions can apply to have up to 100% of costs covered under the Exceptional Opportunities Fund, which will provide between $200,000 and $1.5 million per project. CFI is holding more frequent board meetings to expedite the funding decision process. Applications will be accepted from June 1-15. – CFI

A self-described group of accountability experts, including many former whistleblowers, is calling on governments across Canada to safeguard whistleblowers and open government records to ensure Canadians have access to vital information about the novel coronavirus. The Canadian COVID-19 Accountability Group wants to see COVID-19 ombudspersons in place, as well as new open record laws mandating the public release of relevant documents, including scientific and public health research records, studies, statistics, contracts, grants and loans provided to companies and organizations. “The public has a right to know the scientific and medical research that are informing government decisions … making these records open by default is vital to securing these rights,” the group writes. The coalition includes academics, lawyers and representatives from groups such as the Whistleblowing Canada Research Society and Anti-Corruption and Accountability Canada. – Newswire, White Paper

SaNOtize Research and Development Corp., Vancouver, has enrolled its first participants in a multi-centre, Phase II trial of a promising therapeutic for the prevention and early treatment of COVID-19. The trial is recruiting 210 individuals who have either tested positive for the virus or who are at high risk of becoming infected, such as front-line healthcare workers. Recent tests found that SaNOtize’s antiviral therapy, Nitric Oxide Releasing Solution (NORSTM), is over 99.9% effective against SARS-CoV-2. The results were produced within two minutes. The goal is to produce ready-to-use, inexpensive and rapidly-scalable applications delivered through gargle solutions, nasal spray and nasal lavage. – Newswire

A promising COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by the University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) has cleared a “major milestone” in moving towards human clinical trials. The vaccine has proven highly effective in pre-clinical trials with ferrets. VIDO-InterVac says the vaccine “inducted a strong immune response, generated neutralizing antibodies, and decreased viral infection in the upper respiratory tract to almost undetectable levels”. Several additional trials are planned over the next few months, including safety studies to prepare for human clinical trials this fall. – USask

About 100 Canadians will soon be the first to test a cardiovascular drug that could reduce inflammation in people with COVID-19. Toronto-based HLS Therapeutics Inc. is collaborating with Irish biopharma company Amarin Corp. to conduct the 14-day , multi-site study, led by Dr. Subodh Verma, a cardiac surgeon‐scientist at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, and Dr. Deepak L. Bhatt, executive director of Interventional Cardiovascular Programs at Brigham and Women's Hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School. The drug Vascepa is already approved for use in Canada to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events. – HLS Therapeutics

The Government of Ontario has announced the first 15 projects to receive funding under its $20-million Ontario COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund. The projects include $1.2 million to McMaster University for a major national study on the use of blood from recovered pandemic patients for treating patients fighting the virus. Led by Dr. Donald Arnold, the CONCOR-1 study involves more than 60 hospitals and universities across Canada, the Canadian Blood Services, Héma-Québec, along with three hospitals in New York City and the New York Blood Center. “This is perhaps the largest clinical trial of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 in the world, run out of Ontario,” said Arnold. – Government of Ontario, McMaster University

Aéro Montréal has launched a new committee, the Alliance for the Aerospace Recovery, to help Quebec companies quickly recover from the unprecedented economic blow affecting the industry globally as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the guidance of Aéro Montréal's board of directors, the committee brings together representatives from each segment of the supply chain and various levels of government, including Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions, as well as players from the financial community. – Newswire

The federal government has drafted legislation likely to result in the extension of the 18-month deadline for filing Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) claims, On May 18, the Department of Justice (DOJ) released the Time Limits and Other Periods Act, which recommends six-month extensions to various statutory deadlines, including the Income Tax Act 37(11) and 127(9) investment tax credit that set the SR&ED filing deadlines. Canada Revenue Agency also recently announced that it will expedite SR&ED claims to help cash-strapped companies weather the current economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. – DOJ

The Fonds de recherche du Québec and Mitacs have teamed up to offer 12-16 week internships for university students. The Research Training Awards, valued at $6,000 per intern, will allow undergraduate and graduate students develop the vital skills needed for becoming a researcher: problem solving, working collaboratively in teams, clearly communicating their work, writing research proposals and grant submissions, managing projects, and gaining expertise in their fields. – Mitacs

Canada’s International Development Research Centre is producing a weekly digest of COVID-19 research from around the world. Topics are organized by geographic and thematic focus, such as gender, economic impact, health systems, technology and data mobilization. – IDRC

Life Sciences Ontario (LSO) and Shift Health are hosting a May 28 webinar: COVID-19 and the Future of Our Health Research and Innovation System. Speakers from Sanofi Pasteur, the Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies, Health Charities Coalition of Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and Shift Health will discuss the impact of Canada’s ‘wartime” response and what it might mean for our ‘peacetime’ innovation system. Read the recent report here. – LSO


Dr. Malabika Pramanik becomes the next director of the Banff International Research Station beginning July 1. The University of British Columbia mathematics professor received her Master’s degrees in statistics from the Indian Statistical Institute, and her PhD in Mathematics from the University of California at Berkeley in 2001. Before joining UBC in 2006, Pramanik held positions at the University of Wisconsin, University of Rochester and California Institute of Technology. She is actively involved in initiatives that promote diversity and inclusivity in STEM fields, especially through her role as VP for the Pacific region of the Canadian Mathematical Society and as a co-organizer of programs such as the PIMS Diversity in Mathematics Summer School.

Dr. Donna Strickland has been appointed to the board of the Council of Canadian Academies. Strickland is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Waterloo, where her ultrafast laser group develops high-intensity laser systems for nonlinear optics investigations. She received the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics for developing chirped pulse amplification with Gérard Mourou. – CCA

The Canada Council for the Arts announced the 2020 Killam Prizes May 26, recognizing Canadian scholars in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, health sciences and engineering. They each receive a $100,000 prize. The winners are: Cecilia Benoit, University of Victoria’s Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research and professor in the Department of Sociology (Social Sciences); Sarah Carter, professor and Henry Marshall Tory Chair in the Department of History and Classics at the University of Alberta, and professor in the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta (Humanities); Alan Evans, James McGill Professor of Neurology, Psychiatry and Biomedical Engineering, researcher at The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital), and Victor Dahdaleh Chair in Neurosciences at McGill University (Health Sciences); Edward H.  Sargent, professor and Canada Research Chair in Nanotechnology in the Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto (Engineering); and, Barbara Sherwood Lollar, professor at the University of Toronto, Canada Research Chair and Director of the Stable Isotope Laboratory.

Six new Killam Research Fellows will also share $840,000 for two years of teaching and administrative release. The 2020 recipients are: Eric Brown, McMaster University (antibacterial drug discovery for drug-resistant infections); Jennifer Clapp, University of Waterloo (The Rise of Agrifood Mega-Companies: Implications for the Global Food System); Myriam Denov, McGill University (Born of War: The Perspectives, Realities, and Needs of Children Born of Wartime Rape); Joseph Heath, University of Toronto (How to criticize society); Milica Radisic, University of Toronto (Heart-on-a-chip delivers on the promise of personalized medicine); and Nathalie Tufenkji, McGill University (Impacts of plastic pollution in northern climates).


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