Launch of Alberta Transplant Innovation Fund to Accelerate Transplant Research and Innovation in Canada

TORONTO, Oct. 26, 2016 /CNW/ - The University Hospital Foundation, Alberta Economic Development and Trade and Astellas Pharma Canada, Inc. (Astellas) today announced a new research and innovation partnership that will have a direct and tangible impact on some of the most vulnerable Albertans – those waiting for organ transplantation.

The three organizations have partnered to establish the $1.2 million dollars Alberta Transplant Innovation Fund (ATIF). Through the collaboration of researchers, clinicians, industry leaders, government and philanthropy, ATIF will fund research aimed at improving the care available to transplant patients, and accelerating the translation of this research into technology that is commercially viable - and therefore available to clinicians and patients.

"The University Hospital Foundation is a proud supporter of the University of Alberta Hospital's transplant program, having invested over $6 million to advance transplant patient care and technology," says Bob Bessette, Chair of the University Hospital Foundation.

"Through the Alberta Transplant Innovation Fund we are taking that support to the next level, proudly partnering with Astellas and Alberta Economic Development and Trade to establish this fund, which is set to address some of the most significant challenges faced by transplant patients, and the medical experts who care for them."

Alberta has historically faced low donor rates, and a high need for transplantable organs. In 2015, 300 organ transplant were performed at the University of Alberta Hospital, Alberta Health Services' centre for organ transplantation in Northern Alberta, and the most comprehensive organ and tissue donation centre in Canada. These transplants were received from 84 organ donors. Meanwhile, 401 patients were waiting for an organ transplant in Edmonton.

"This combination of low donor rates and high need for organs means that many Albertans do not receive the organs they so desperately need, and are left waiting on the transplant list – often until it is too late," explains Dr. Lori West, Director of both the Canadian National Transplant Research Program and the Alberta Transplant Institute, and a pediatric transplant cardiologist.

In addition to addressing the need for organs and increasing donation rates, the ATIF will provide funding for researchers who seek to advance transplant technologies, improve care for transplant patients, and increase organ donation rates. But learning new ways to approach Alberta's transplant challenges is not enough – this research must be taken to the next step and made commercially viable if it is to have the intended impact on Albertans.

"Alberta has and continues to be a leader in Immunology and Transplant research, both within Canada and globally," said Fran Paradiso-Hardy, Senior Director of Medical Affairs, Astellas. "The ATIF creates the opportunity for future groundbreaking discoveries, helping more patients receive the life-changing gift of a transplant and to live a longer, better life with it."

Through this partnership, Astellas is investing in the future of transplant in Alberta by supporting research in this area.

"It's our hope that by supporting leading edge technologies, we can help make a difference for patients awaiting a transplant and their families.  Innovation plays an important part of building an economy for the future – but the most important role it can play is helping save a loved one's life," says Deron Bilous, Minister of Economic Development and Trade.

"With hundreds of Albertans waiting for an organ transplant, increasing transplant research and innovation will go a long way towards helping even more Albertans get the lifesaving surgeries they need," adds Sarah Hoffman, Minister of Health.

Alberta's Life Sciences Sector is emerging as an important economic contributor. In 2014 revenues for the sector topped $1 billion; contributing 18,000 jobs to the Alberta economy. The remarkable advances in organ transplantation over the last two decades has created a burgeoning demand for transplant procedures, at a time when the Canadian healthcare system is facing constraints in resources and funding. Through partnerships with industry, researchers working in this sector will have access to both the economic investments and the commercial expertise they require to grow the industry, to benefit the health of all Albertans.

Through its strategic establishment, ATIF will help establish Alberta as a commercial hub for transplant technologies. And the partnership establishes the opportunity for other industry partners to invest in Alberta's Life Sciences Sector, and to partner with Alberta's dynamic medical research community to advance future innovation and excellence in Alberta.

The University Hospital Foundation has demonstrated its capacity and expertise in managing such private, public and philanthropic partnerships. Strategic Partnerships with the University Hospital Foundation bring together industry, public sector and philanthropic collaborators to advance innovation, and translate made-in-Alberta innovations into solutions that impact the health of all Albertans.

Media availability details:


Wednesday, Oct 26, 2016


11:30 a.m. MDT


Koshal Atrium, Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute

Additional Information:   


About The University Hospital Foundation
The University Hospital Foundation raises funds to support innovation and excellence at the University of Alberta Hospital, Kaye Edmonton Clinic and Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute. Foundation donors have contributed $15.8 million towards the creation of new knowledge since 2004.

About Astellas Pharma Inc.
Astellas Pharma Inc., based in Tokyo, Japan, is a company dedicated to improving the health of people around the world through the provision of innovative and reliable pharmaceutical products. We focus on Urology, Oncology, Immunology, Nephrology and Neuroscience as prioritized therapeutic areas while advancing new therapeutic areas and discovery research leveraging new technologies/modalities. We are also creating new value by combining internal capabilities and external expertise in the medical/ healthcare business. Astellas is on the forefront of healthcare change to turn innovative science into value for patients.  For more information, please visit our website at

About Astellas Pharma Canada
Astellas Pharma Canada, Inc., headquartered in Markham, ON, is a Canadian affiliate of Tokyo-based Astellas Pharma Inc. In Canada, Astellas has an intense commercial focus on four therapeutic areas – Urology, Immunology, Infectious Disease and Oncology. For more information about Astellas Pharma Canada, Inc., please visit the corporate website:  

SOURCE Astellas Pharma Canada, Inc.

For further information: For media inquiries, contact: Nicole Merrifield, University Hospital Foundation,, 780-407-6937; Michelle Reale, Astellas Pharma Canada,, 647-882-5621

Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.

CNW Membership

Fill out a CNW membership form or contact us at 1 (877) 269-7890

Learn about CNW services

Request more information about CNW products and services or call us at 1 (877) 269-7890