Next Generation of Scientists Will be Trained at MUHC

Published: 10 June 2002

The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) Research Institute will be nurturing the next generation of health researchers through funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Strategic Training Initiative program. The federal Minister of Health, Anne McClellan, and the CIHR president, Alan Bernstein announced today that the teams of two MUHC researchers will be awarded these large-scale interdisciplinary grants.

"This funding supports strategic, innovative and transdisciplinary research programs that will improve the health of Canadians," says Dr. Emil Skamene, Scientific Director of the MUHC Research Institute. "These projects are designed to train a new generation of biomedical and clinical scientists, well-educated to enter the internationally-competitive academic laboratories and biotechnology enterprises. This program is one of the key elements of the Canada Innovation Strategy towards the knowledge-based economy."

MUHC Physician in Chief, Dr. David Goltzman is the director of the project entitled, Training Program in Skeletal Health Research. "Chronic diseases of the skeleton such as osteoporosis and arthritis cost the taxpayer upward of $4 billion in direct healthcare costs and $17 billion in indirect costs per year, " says Goltzman. " These costs will continue to rise over the next 20 years unless there is an immediate investment in training researchers in all aspects of skeletal health." Goltzman's program will provide skeletal health training to individuals at the undergraduate, graduate, post MD, post PhD level, to allied health professionals and the public.

MUHC molecular geneticist, Dr. Erwin Schurr is the director of the project entitled, Training Centre in Integrative Biology of Infectious Diseases and Autoimmunity. "The development of new interventions for common human disease will be one of the frontiers of biomedical research in the next decade requiring highly qualified multidisciplinary researchers. In Canada, there is a lack of these personnel," says Schurr. "This research will involve close interplay between for-profit companies and government funded research centres. To be able to work effectively in this environment, researchers must be knowledgeable about the ethical setting of their work, and issues of intellectual property and technology transfer." Schurr's comprehensive training centre will prepare young scientists to meet these challenges while working as part of a multidisciplinary team.

MUHC Research Institute investigators are also members of other CIHR Strategic Training Grants, which are based in other institutions such as the University of Toronto and McGill University.

The Strategic Training Initiative is an example of CIHR and the Government of Canada forging new ways of funding health research. Overall, the CIHR approved an investment of $88 million to support 51 Strategic Training Grant projects.

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