McMaster and University of Ottawa receive more than $115M to bolster pandemic preparedness in Canada  

Over the shoulder look at a person in full head-to-toe protective lab gear looking into a microscope

New federal funding will enable the Canadian Pandemic Preparedness Hub to develop novel therapeutics, vaccines, and technologies to more effectively prevent and respond to future infectious disease threats.

The Canadian Pandemic Preparedness Hub (CP2H), co-led by McMaster University and the University of Ottawa, has received more than $115 million in research and infrastructure funding.

The funding, announced May 6 by the Government of Canada, comes via the integrated Canada Biomedical Research Fund (CBRF) and Biosciences Research Infrastructure Fund (BRIF), which were established to support a range of pandemic preparedness activities across the country, as well as from the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s Infrastructure Operating Fund (IOF).

“The COVID-19 pandemic showed us all why pandemic readiness is so important,” says Matthew Miller, scientific co-lead of CP2H and executive director of McMaster’s Global Nexus.

“This new funding will ensure that we have the platforms in place — right here in Canada — to enable the development of novel therapeutics, vaccines, and technologies that will allow us to more effectively prevent and respond to future infectious disease threats.”

CP2H is one of five CBRF/BRIF-funded research hubs in Canada, which, together are the centerpiece of a $2.2 billion national program designed to scale up the country’s domestic life sciences and biomanufacturing capacity.

The investment in CP2H will modernize and future-proof the biomanufacturing facilities based at McMaster and the Ottawa Hospital and expand the biomanufacturing footprint at both sites.

It will also establish a new satellite hub facility at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. Together, these facilities will be capable of manufacturing a range of biological products suitable for use in clinical trials, including vaccines, antibodies, and cell-based therapies.

The new funding will also bring state-of-the-art equipment to the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) in Saskatchewan, which will help optimize CP2H biomanufacturing initiatives, intensifying the rate at which new treatments and technologies can be commercialized.

With the funds, CP2H will also establish integrated research programming at six academic and government biomanufacturing facilities based across Canada to increase biomanufacturing capacity nationwide and to enable standardized, high-quality training of next-generation researchers in Canada.

“Together, we will develop life-saving solutions to emerging and ongoing public health challenges while providing critical infrastructure for the growing biotherapeutics industry,” says University of Ottawa professor John Bell, a senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital and the other scientific co-lead of CP2H.

The shared hub will allow both institutions to meaningfully support Canada’s broader life sciences strategy, say Andy Knights, McMaster’s acting vice-president, Research, and Sylvain Charbonneau, the University of Ottawa’s vice-president, Research and Innovation.

“Through CP2H, McMaster will bolster its strong innovation ecosystem and ensure that our life sciences research is directly translated to new health products that protect Canadians and those living in Canada,” Knights says.

“The new funding will allow the University of Ottawa and its partners to stand at the forefront of Canada’s push to protect against future pandemics and outbreaks,” agrees Charbonneau. “Our objective is to grow a strong and competitive biomanufacturing sector and make Canada a global leader in emerging vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.”

The Government of Canada first announced that McMaster and the University of Ottawa were successful in their bid to co-lead CP2H in 2023, at which time the hub received an initial $2 million in operating funds.

This second round of funding will catalyze biomanufacturing activities across the hub, leading to the development of new, made-in-Canada health technologies and products.

“Today’s announcement marks another important milestone in our work to improve health outcomes for Canadians and strengthen our domestic biomanufacturing capacity,” says Mark Holland, federal minister of health.

“This investment will support innovative and world-leading research and science in the areas of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and surveillance to help prepare Canada for future health emergencies.”

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