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Campus commercialization: Thirsty for the next Gatorade Add to ...

The pharmaceutical industry funds a large percentage of medical research in Canada today. Many medical schools would find it difficult to operate were it not for the dollars rolling in from these companies. Given those facts, it's not just academic purists who wonder how much confidence we can have in studies that are ultimately funded by someone who has a vested interest in the outcome. The potential moral problems associated with taking money from tobacco companies or arms manufacturers are also familiar topics of debate on campus, and many have rules concerning just what kind of money it is alright for the university to accept, and what kind is not.

It's not desirable to return to a time when universities were completely cut off from corporations. But they also need to maintain their ideals. Jennifer Washburn puts it well in the final pages of University Inc. "Universities should be places that are engaged with the outside world, encourage creative problem solving, and support entrepreneurial thinking. They should have mechanisms in place to facilitate the transfer of new knowledge and inventions to industry and provide students with the tools and training they need to start up new companies and pursue new careers without sacrificing their autonomy or compromising the values and ideals they have long pledged to uphold."


THE NEW CENTRES OF EXCELLENCE

Some recently-established projects that combine campus brainpower with corporate cash:

1 AAPS

Advanced Applied Physics Solutions, VANCOUVER

Located on UBC 's south campus, AAPS is a subsidiary of TRIUMF, Canada's world-class subatomic physics research lab and the world's largest cyclotron. AAPS will be responsible for commercializing particle accelerator technology, including applications in medical imaging and the production of medical isotopes.

2 PREVENT

Pan-Provincial Vaccine Enterprise, SASKATOON

Joins together Canada's vaccine industry and disease control organizations in order to accelerate the testing and development of new vaccines.

3 MI

MaRS Innovation, TORONTO

MaRS is Canada's largest concentration of scientific and medical researchers. It brings together in one place all the resources of the University of Toronto , the city's major hospitals, and more than two dozen other affiliated research institutes. The mission is to turn that research power into economic opportunities.

4 IRICoR

Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer CECR in Therapeutics Discovery, MONTREAL

The Unit for the Discovery of Medicines at Université de Montreal has an extensive portfolio of targeted therapies to fight cancer. IRICoR will build relationships with new partners in the biopharmaceutical industry to make the most of these new therapies.

5 CCR

Centre for the Commercialization of Research, OTTAWA

Building on the success of the Ontario Centres of Excellence, CCR will find markets for new technologies from across Canada in fields as diverse as heath sciences, energy and digital media technology.

6 CEPM

Centre of Excellence in Personalized Medicine, MONTREAL

Working with the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, and researchers from the Montreal Heart Institute and Génome Québec, CEPM will conduct clinical trials and help commercialize genome therapies and other genomic technologies.

8 PROOF

CECR in the Prevention of Epidemic Organ Failure, VANCOUVER

It's estimated that vital organ failure costs the Canadian health care system more than $35 billion each year. Working with scientists from across Canada PROOF will seek solutions to this epidemic by moving away from drug-only strategies and toward improved methods of early detection.

9 PC-TRIADD

The Prostate Centre's Translational Research Initiative for Accelerated Discovery and Development, VANCOUVER

Vancouver General Hospital houses one of the world's most respected prostate cancer facilities. PC-TRIADD will work to coordinate research from The Prostate Centre with other research facilities, national trials and private industry.

10 CPDC

Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization, HAMILTON

McMaster University is at the forefront of research into molecular imaging probes. These are special compounds which, when injected into patients, help produce a very precise picture of what is going on in the body. CPDC will validate the safety of these probes, conduct clinical trials, and help bring the technology to market.

11 BIC

Bioindustrial Innovation Centre, SARNIA

Housed at UWO 's Sarnia-Lambton Research Park, BIC will focus on helping petrochemical companies develop alternative fuels from renewable sources of energy such as agricultural waste and forestry by-products.

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