Feds create new research hub at U of O to strengthen pandemic preparednes

The University of Ottawa will lead a new “pandemic preparedness hub” to help Canada produce vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics ahead of future pandemics.

The federal government announced Monday an investment of $2 million in the new hub, which the University of Ottawa will lead alongside McMaster University. 

According to a news release, the multidisciplinary research hub will accelerate research and development of next-generation vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, while supporting training and development to expand the pipeline of skilled talent. It will catalyze research and biomanufacturing innovations and speed the translation of promising research into commercially viable products and processes, the release stated.

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“We are very eager to actively contribute to this groundbreaking national effort to grow a strong and competitive biomanufacturing and life sciences sector,” said Sylvain Charbonneau, vice-president of research and innovation at the University of Ottawa, in the release. “The ultimate goal is to make Canada a global leader in emerging vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, enhancing the national capacity to prevent and respond to future pandemics.”

The support is part of a $10-million investment announced last week by the federal government that will support the creation of five research hubs as part of the first stage of the integrated Canada Biomedical Research Fund (CBRF) and Biosciences Research Infrastructure Fund (BRIF) competition.

Other hubs will be located in Alberta, B.C., Montreal and Toronto.

“Multidisciplinary research hubs like this one in the National Capital Region … will foster collaboration between academia, industry and the community to strengthen Canada’s talent pipeline and ensure the well-being of people and communities,” said Ottawa-Vanier MP and Treasury Board president Mona Fortier, who made the announcement Monday.

The CBRF is a $250-million fund to support high-risk applied research, training and talent development partnership projects. The BRIF is a $500-million fund to support the biosciences infrastructure needs of post-secondary institutions and affiliated research hospitals. 

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