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Western Economic Diversification Takes Research Initiative To Heart

January 24, 2003
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Manitobans and all Canadians will benefit from $3 million in federal funding through Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) towards the Clinical Cardiology Research Initiative at the St. Boniface General Hospital Research Centre.

Stephen Owen, Secretary of State (Western Economic Diversification) (Indian Affairs and Northern Development) made the announcement today for the research initiative, which will put Winnipeg on the global map of cardiac research.

"The Government of Canada is committed to supporting research and health initiatives and my department is proud to support the St. Boniface General Hospital in this important project," said Stephen Owen. "I'm pleased to say that WD is playing a key role in another health-related program here in Manitoba."

"The St. Boniface General Hospital Research Centre shows how scientific excellence and entrepreneurship are being harnessed to yield cutting-edge medical research and innovation," said Minister of Industry Allan Rock. "In both basic and applied cardiovascular science, the Centre is contributing significantly to making Canada a world leader in this field."

Hubert Gauthier, President of St. Boniface General Hospital, said, "Today's announcement is another crucial step in the process of building a centre of excellence in clinical cardiovascular research in the new I. H. Asper Clinical Research Institute. St. Boniface Hospital is assembling a world class clinical cardiovascular research team, specialized equipment and research facilities to support our quest of becoming the very best in this field. We are pleased that WD is a partner in this effort."

WD's contribution to the Clinical Cardiology Research Initiative will be allocated to capital expenses necessary to set up the new clinical research capability. The new research initiative will help attract internationally renowned cardiology research specialists from which Canadians and especially Manitobans stand to gain.

"Manitoba's economy will benefit tremendously from this new program," said Dr. Rey Pagtakhan, senior federal minister for Manitoba. "The exciting work being done here is expected to attract more researchers and indeed capture the attention of the large pharmaceutical sector. This will result in the creation and expansion of biotechnology and health-related jobs here in Manitoba."

WD previously announced a $5 million contribution towards the I. H. Asper Clinical Research Institute currently under construction at St. Boniface Hospital. This 100,000 sq. ft. clinical research institute will house clinical researchers specialized in the study of cardiac and vascular disease, addressing a gap between basic research and later stage clinical trials on humans. New drugs and medical devices will be tested in this facility, making it only the third of its kind in Canada. Today's funding announcement contributes towards the establishment of a world class research team that will spearhead the work in this institute.

Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) is a department of the Government of Canada that works in partnership with the provinces, industry associations and communities to stimulate and encourage diversification of the western economy, as well as to represent the interests of the West in Ottawa.

For additional information, contact:

Jacquie Sippola
Communications Officer
Western Economic Diversification
Winnipeg, Manitoba
(204) 983-0280

Harry Schulz
Director, Business Operations
St. Boniface General Hospital Research Centre
Winnipeg, Manitoba
(204) 235-3206

WD Toll-Free Number:1-888-338-WEST (9378)
Teletypewriter (TTY): 1-877-303-3388
WD Website: www.wd-deo.gc.ca.
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Clinical Cardiology Research Initiative

In July 2000, WD announced a $5M contribution towards the establishment of the $25M Clinical Research Institute (CRI) to be built adjacent to the St. Boniface General Hospital Research Centre (SBGHRC). Construction began in the spring of 2002 and should be completed by the fall of 2003. The Province has also committed $5M to the CRI project. Mr. Israel Asper acquired the naming rights for the new building - to be known as the I. H. Asper Clinical Research Institute - for a $5M donation. The balance construction funding will come through the St. Boniface General Hospital & Research Foundation "Heart Care Campaign".

The CRI will accommodate a wide range of research disciplines but will specialize in cardiac and vascular disease. SBGHRC is already home to one of the premiere basic research groups in cardiovascular sciences in Canada (Dr. N. Dhalla). The CRI is intended to establish the clinical research teams needed to expedite the transition of this world class research to the bedside.

The Clinical Cardiovascular Research Initiative will support the development of a world class clinical cardiovascular research team to work in the CRI. The initiative involves recruitment of new, internationally recognized scientists, acquisition of specialized equipment and initial start-up resources for the program. This recruitment effort is key to the long-term success of the CRI.

WD has committed $3M towards this important initiative. WD's portion of this project will assist in financing the capital equipment necessary to establish a new cardiovascular sciences clinic. It is expected, as in all cases at SBGHRC, that the principal researcher will become self-sufficient within three years.

The CRI is intended to facilitate the transition of promising basic research findings to application at the bedside. Two key features of the CRI building are a Phase 1-3 clinical trial facility (allowing new experimental medications to be tested in human subjects for the first time) and incubator space for biotechnology spin off companies. This infrastructure is being established to facilitate the commercialization of technology generated at SBGHRC.

Over the past three years, the SBGHRC has launched five medical technology companies. Four of these companies have been launched with investment provided through the Western Life Sciences Venture Fund, an early stage venture capital pool associated with SBGHRC. It is expected that a number of new biotechnology companies will created in the future and the WD investments are supporting the creation of more sophisticated commercialization infrastructure.

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