MSFHR supports innovation in blood research

8 September 2011

World-class research requires not only the spark of inspiration from creative minds, but also state-of-the-art equipment to nurture inspiration to its fullest expression. For UBC’s Centre for Blood Research (CBR), the establishment of sophisticated facilities through a $15-million Canada Foundation for Innovation infrastructure award has played a vital role in attracting outstanding scientists and top-quality personnel and establishing its position as one of the world’s leading inter-disciplinary blood centres.

However, to capitalize fully on this investment, CBR has relied on a 2003 MSFHR Research Unit award, which has made possible the recruitment of highly qualified specialists with the expertise to manage advanced technologies. Dr. Ross MacGillivray, UBC Vice-Dean of Academic Affairs and former CBR Director, notes the MSFHR funding for highly skilled management personnel is unique and indispensible.

“Within the Canadian research funding environment, there is no other source of financial support for the salaries of these managers, all of whom hold PhD degrees,” says MacGillivray. “The MSFHR infrastructure grants fill a unique and vitally important niche that ensures full value is realized from these major financial investments.”

By supporting the ongoing operation of CBR facilities, including its various hubs and suites of equipment, MSFHR funding has helped facilitate the development of several therapeutic breakthroughs. Among these breakthroughs:

  • ThromboLUX, an innovative test to determine the quality of platelet samples prior to transfusion, has been commercialized by a spin-off company founded by Dr. Elisabeth Maurer, a CBR researcher.
  • A team of CBR scientists, including MSFHR Scholar Dr. Jayachandran Kizhakkedathu, has made significant progress in creating functional blood product substitutes, helping to meet the rapidly increasing demand for blood transfusions with synthetic alternatives.
  • MSFHR Scholar Dr. Aly Karsan and collaborators have uncovered the molecular mechanisms of one of the most common blood cancers, providing new insights that may lead to better treatments.

The world-class infrastructure facilitated by MSFHR funding has also been instrumental in recruiting top international researchers, such as Dr. Edward M. Conway, a Canada Research Chair in Endothelial Cell Biology and CBR’s new director.

“It was only through the continued success of CBR that we were able to recruit such an outstanding scientist, again because of the infrastructure support provided by the MSFHR award,” says MacGillivray.

For more information, visit the CBR website.