Canada’s health security requires increased research support: Op-Ed by NMIN researchers

“Canada’s biomedical community can clearly be competitive globally. However, we need investment in research and development, as well as infrastructure, to enable end-to-end, made-in-Canada solutions that can help Canadians and ensure health security.”

This is the key message of an opinion piece by NMIN research leaders Drs. Pieter Cullis and Shana Kelley, published in the Ottawa-based Hill Times as the federal government struggles to secure COVID-19 vaccines for Canadians.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the fact that Canada lacks biopharmaceutical and vaccine manufacturing capacity,” the authors note.

“At the same time, it has highlighted Canada’s strengths in biopharmaceutical innovation”with  a critical component of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine developed in Canada, stemming from research pioneered by Dr. Cullis and colleagues at The University of British Columbia (UBC) that began in 1978.

“Growing the biotech industry would accelerate our transition to a knowledge-based economy, and provide new drivers of economic prosperity,” they further observe.

“The government must lower the barriers to startup creation in the biomedical sector.”

Read the Op-ed in the Hill Times.

With a view to recognizing and strengthening just such Canadian capacity, the Precision Medicine initiative (PRiME) at the University of Toronto, led by Dr. Kelley, recently held a virtual Pan-Canadian Showcase to highlight the largest centres accelerating biomedical innovation in Canada. View a recording of the event.

NMIN, in turn, recently co-organized with NanoCanada a workshop on a topic related directly to the Hill Times opinion piece, entitled “Investing in Canada’s Nanomedicine Ecosystem,” which featured a keynote presentation by Dr. Cullis as well as contributions from representatives of Canadian biotech companies and of the National Research Council Canada. View a recording of the event.

Dr. Cullis is NMIN’s Scientific Director & CEO and co-leads NMIN’s Theme II: Gene Therapy and NanoCore core facility. Dr. Kelley is co-leader of NMIN’s Theme III: Diagnostics.