Donation will create Canada's first library of human embryonic stem cells



    HAMILTON, ON, June 27 /CNW/ - Canada will have its first human embryonic
stem cell library based at McMaster University thanks to a
multi-million-dollar commitment this morning from a Hamilton businessman.
    The library is one component in a $50-million gift from David Braley that
will transform family medicine, and forge new discoveries within the Michael
G. DeGroote School of Medicine to treat such catastrophic illnesses as cancer,
Alzheimer's and spinal cord injuries, as well as common illnesses like heart
disease and diabetes.
    In making the announcement, a clearly delighted Peter George, president
of McMaster University, called Braley "a wonderfully generous citizen who
feels the best investment for our region is to enhance education and health
care." He credited Braley with recognizing the city's growth as a biomedical
powerhouse.
    "This commitment to the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine is an
investment in education and health care for the people of Hamilton, Ontario
and Canada," said David Braley. "I see this as seed money that should be
amplified by our Government and industry to continue to build the medical
school, the Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University, and the Hamilton
region.
    "In the near future the Family Medicine Centre (which I hope will be
located where it is most needed, right downtown), will help the people of
Hamilton, including my employees. It is one way of giving back to my
community.
    "I am enthusiastic about the commitment to human embryonic stem cells
research," said Braley. "It is an investment in our top scientists who will
help develop cures for terrible illnesses.
    "Finally, the third component of this gift - an endowment fund - will
allow the medical school and its researchers and scientists an opportunity to
achieve greater breakthroughs in health care. This fund will allow them to
amplify their research by leveraging further investments from other groups."
    John Kelton, McMaster's dean & vice-president, Faculty of Health
Sciences, said the investments will capitalize on the strengths of the Michael
G. DeGroote School of Medicine and the entire Faculty of Health Sciences. "Mr.
Braley's gift represents three important components: First, we will begin to
develop a Family Health Centre where our physicians, nurses, midwives and
rehabilitation specialists provide comprehensive care," he said. "We will seek
partnerships from the province and our city to provide a comprehensive
education, care and research centre that should be located in downtown
Hamilton. The second component of the gift, the $25 million endowment, will
allow our scientists and health professionals the opportunity to develop new
initiatives.
    "Perhaps the boldest component of the gift is the $15-million dedicated
to enhancing human embryonic stem cell research through a stem cell library.
This research holds promise to treat catastrophic illnesses that range from
cancer to Parkinson's to spinal cord regeneration." Human stem cells have
shown to be a source of replacement cells, but early research suggests they
can also be used to treat a variety of diseases and disorders, from
Parkinson's to diabetes. McMaster's Stem Cell & Cancer Research Institute is
the only facility in Canada dedicated to human embryonic stem cell research
and is now expanding the use of human embryonic stem cell to understand cell
growth especially in cancer and cell regeneration.
    "Working with human embryonic stem cells is prohibitively difficult, so
there are very few places in the world with the trained scientists, experience
and the specialized infrastructure to overcome the barriers to success.
McMaster is one of those places," said Mick Bhatia, scientific director of the
McMaster Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute. "This is a distinct
investment opportunity, and David Braley sees our vision of creating a
platform for significant innovations in stem cell based tissue repair and
novel therapeutics to eradicate human cancer."

    
    Braley's commitment includes:

    - $10-million for a Family Medicine Centre that will not only serve the
      health care needs for Hamilton residents, it will be a model for family
      practice. Patients will benefit from care by a responsive, dynamic
      health care team that addresses the total need of the individual.
      Innovations will include self-management programs for conditions such
      as diabetes, and better use of leading edge information technologies.
      This will allow McMaster to build on its strength in interprofessional
      collaborations as evidenced by McMaster's unique Maternity Centre. The
      Family Medicine Centre will be led by David Price, chair of the
      Department of Family Medicine.

    - A $25-million endowment fund available for research or capital. The
      intent of this fund is to allow flexibility to respond to new
      opportunities and to pursue research that holds the greatest promise to
      improve health. Because medical discoveries are often unexpected and
      sometimes unpredictable, this fund will allow the researchers greater
      opportunity to build on their discoveries as they happen.

    - Canada's first human embryonic stem cell library will receive $15-
      million. This will allow scientists in the Michael G. DeGroote School
      of Medicine to dramatically amplify their research investigating the
      potential of human embryonic stem cells. This initiative will be led by
      stem cell biologist, Mick Bhatia, a renowned leader in human stem cell
      research. Partnering with the Bhatia team of scientists will be Dr.
      David Andrews and his biochemistry group. This library will serve as a
      platform for stem cell study and therapeutics and has already attracted
      industry support.
    

    McMaster University, a world-renowned, research-intensive university,
fosters a culture of innovation, and a commitment to discovery and learning in
teaching, research and scholarship. Based in Hamilton, the University, one of
only four Canadian universities to be listed on the Top 100 universities in
the world, has a student population of more than 23,000, and an alumni
population of more than 125,000 in 125 countries.




For further information:

For further information: please contact Jane Christmas, Manager, Public
Relations, McMaster University, (905) 525-9140 ext. 27988,
chrisja@mcmaster.ca; Michelle Donovan, PR Specialist, Broadcast Media,
McMaster University, (905) 525-9140, EXT. 22869, donovam@mcmaster.ca.

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