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Ryerson University and St. Michael’s Hospital to open collaborative research centre

New 22,000-square-foot centre to foster synergies in active health care research

Toronto, November 6, 2013

By Leslie Shepherd

In his lab at the Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science of St. Michael’s Hospital, Dr. Howard Leong-Poi is researching novel and non-invasive treatments for a common circulatory problem known as peripheral artery disease.

He attaches genes that promote blood vessel growth into tiny bubbles made of fat, which are administered by intravenous injection. Using high-intensity external ultrasound, he bursts the bubbles over the part of the body where they are needed, a process that releases the genes directly into the diseased blood vessels where they can stimulate growth of new, more functional vessels.

Just a few blocks away in downtown Toronto, Dr. Michael Kolios is also working on novel ultrasound techniques in the Physics Department of Ryerson University. His analyzes tumours at the cellular level in an effort to understand tumour growth and biology, and guide the development of new therapies.

Imagine the conversations they might have around the water cooler if they worked together under the same roof.

Dr. Stephen Waldman of Ryerson’s Department of Chemical Engineering has already opened a lab in the Keenan Research Centre where he’s building living cartilage that exactly matches the animal’s own anatomy. Using a newly developed method, he has built personalized implants for outer ear reconstruction and to resurface damaged knees.

When he’s ready to start clinical tests on humans, he’ll be able to walk across the bridge connecting the research centre to St. Michael’s Hospital to collaborate with surgeons looking after patients with such ailments as knee arthritis.

These kinds of collaborative projects which overlay advances in technology and biomedical science will become more common under a 20-year partnership between Ryerson University and St. Michael’s Hospital announced today. The downtown neighbours have agreed to create a virtual entity to be known as iBest (the Institute for Biomedical Engineering and Science Technology).

A key part of the initiative will be the creation of a 22,000-square-foot home in the Keenan Research Centre for approximately 15 Ryerson faculty members and 40 Ryerson students whose active research involves health care. In this location, they will work side-by-side with the St. Michael’s scientists and clinician-scientists working in Keenan Research Centre laboratories. The connection to the hospital via the bridge over Shuter Street will also allow researchers to apply their discoveries to patients, for so-called “bench-to bedside” research.

That space will include a 2,000-square-foot “incubator” that will specialize in the development and commercialization of innovative biomechanical products to care for and treat patients, similar to Ryerson’s hugely successful Digital Media Zone or DMZ.

“As Canada’s university leader in entrepreneurship, we believe St. Michael’s is an ideal partner for Ryerson. Not only are we neighbours, we are both focused on providing innovative new research opportunities and building an innovative-zone learning platform for students,” said Ryerson University President Sheldon Levy. “We look forward to working with our colleagues at St Michael's Hospital in this new collaboration.”

iBest has its foundation in Ryerson’s long-standing connections with St. Michael’s, which include internships and other educational opportunities for about 215 nursing, psychology, clinical dietetics, interior design and midwifery students each year.

"I'm thrilled with this partnership which builds upon the strengths of our two organizations,” said Dr. Ori Rotstein, director of the Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science. “Bringing our researchers together will result in exciting new collaborations, and allow them to bring innovative new treatments to patients faster than ever."

Construction is expected to start next spring with move-in spring 2015.

Ryerson University is on a transformational course having doubled scholarly, research and creative activity funding over the last five years. Ryerson now ranks first in Ontario and fourth nationally for research growth. Among non-medical universities, Ryerson is ranked 11th in the country in terms of research funding.

About St. Michael’s Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

About Ryerson University

Ryerson University is Canada's leader in innovative, career-oriented education and a university clearly on the move. With a mission to serve societal need, and a long-standing commitment to engaging its community, Ryerson offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs. Distinctly urban, culturally diverse and inclusive, the university is home to more than 38,000 students, including 2,300 master's and PhD students, nearly 2,700 faculty and staff, and more than 155,000 alumni worldwide. Research at Ryerson is on a trajectory of success and growth: externally funded research has doubled in the past four years. The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education is Canada's leading provider of university-based adult education. For more information, visit www.ryerson.ca

Media contacts

For more information, or to arrange an interview, contact:

Leslie Shepherd
Manager, Media Strategy
416-864-6094
shepherdl@smh.ca

Johanna VanderMaas
Media Relations Officer
416-979-5000 ex.4630
johanna.vandermaas@ryerson.ca