Dr. Keown and team were one of 15 projects selected for $162-million in funding across the country, six projects of which are based in B.C. The project establishes precision medicine in Transplantation and brings together over 70 PIs working at molecular and clinical levels from 22 universities in Canada, the US, EU and UK.
Our next transition into the future is to extend this research and funding into the broader field of immune disease through the New Frontiers program, with further platform support from other major agencies, foundations and industry to catalyze this novel research cluster.
We are preparing to develop a unique “first-in-Canada” Provincial Precision Medicine Core for Immune Health. We believe this offers tremendous clinical opportunity and research potential for UBC, for the province and for Canada.
Immune-related diseases currently affect over 10% of Canada’s population often leading to debility and death, with a cost of more than $20 billion per year. Major advances, from immune research in new biologics, vaccines, cellular therapeutics and many other cutting-edge innovations in which Canada has been a leader, provide a superb opportunity to develop integrated cutting-edge Personalized Medicine strategies in immune diseases and avoid their life-threatening consequences. But the field of immunity remains highly fragmented. We are preparing to develop
a unique “first-in-Canada” Provincial Precision Medicine Core for Immune Health. We believe this offers tremendous clinical opportunity and research potential for UBC, for the province and for Canada.
The proposed program would integrate 4 cardinal fields of immunity:
(a) Solid organ transplantation,
(b) cellular transplantation (hematopoietic and other e.g. islets),
(c) Autoimmune disorders, and
(d) Immune Deficiency Syndromes.
The Consortium would streamline integration of 3 levels of cutting-edge research, drawing on our current experience and expertise. Discovery Research will expand the fields of structural biology, genome sciences and tissue bioengineering to rapidly apply evolving technologies to promote stem cell expansion, organ genesis and cellular therapeutics. Translational Research will advance current expertise in genome, proteome and molecular diagnostics to enable precise measurement of evolving inflammation and immune modulation. Delivery Research will integrate teams and knowledge through sequential and coordinated adaptive therapeutic studies measuring biological, personal and societal impacts to enable the safe and selective clinical modulation of immune tolerance across diverse disease populations.
All research components would be developed around a strong core of big data systems, machine learning and artificial intelligence linking our major programs in BCs provincial universities, leading computational medicine teams in Alberta, McGill and Toronto, and those further afield.
We anticipate Computational Medicine as a major unifying theme, with innovative bioinformatics and computational genomics tools looking
downwards to the molecular sciences, advanced laboratory computation to speed translation of new diagnostic technologies, and provincial database integration and expert system development looking upwards to guide provincial care delivery through. All research components would be developed around a strong core of big data systems, machine learning and artificial intelligence linking our major programs in BCs provincial universities, leading computational medicine teams in Alberta, McGill and Toronto, and those further afield.
While in oncology personalized and computational medicine approaches are relatively well established, personalized treatment decisions have just begun to emerge in chronic inflammatory diseases. This program will profoundly change the research and management of immune related diseases in Canada, and would be a truly unique strategy integrating the research teams, provincial laboratories and clinical programs working in these fields within the province.
As with our current Genome Canada program, we hope to make this a Canadian and an international initiative. Here is the opportunity to leverage funding from global agencies for common areas of critical research, designed to tackle this particularly challenging field of highly prevalent and complex diseases for which common mechanisms and complementary therapies are at last beginning to emerge. This exciting project would place BC at the forefront of this rapidly-expanding field linking genomic mechanisms and targeted therapy to efficient and effective care delivery in many of the most challenging and complex disorders resulting from immune and inflammatory injury, and the repair or replacement of irreparable damage through transplantation of stem cells, tissues or organs and other novel forms of regenerative medicine.
We are always open to new collaborations and research ideas. Please feel free to contact Dr. Karen Sherwood for more information, or just pop by for a cup of tea and a biscuit.