U of T has allocated $27 million of a $114 million grant to 20 research projects about the use of stem cells as a regenerative medicine for illnesses with minimal to no cure. The $114 million grant was provided by the federal government last summer to support U of T’s Medicine by Design.

U of T’s Medicine by Design focuses on regenerative medicine and cell therapy by bringing over 90 high-calibre researchers together in a globally-competitive atmosphere.

According to U of T’s Media Room website, the funding given to Medicine by Design was the first grant announced by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund and is considered to be the largest single research award in its history.

The teams of researchers in the project vary in level of education, mentorship, and specialist fields of study, and were selected after a review and final deliberation by international reviewers and the Scientific Advisory Board of Medicine by Design.

Some examples of the topics conducted by the researchers include using stem cells to restore vision in patients with age-related vision loss, using functional liver tissues engineered from stem cells to study liver disease and test new drugs and treatments, and creating a probiotic bacterium that assists the gut lining to renew itself in response to inflammatory bowel diseases.

According to the Funded Initiatives section on the Medicine by Design website, these research projects involve looking into fundamental questions regarding regenerative medicine, and using technology to help accelerate the discoveries.

In U of T News article “$27-million Medicine by Design investment will fast-track stem cell research,” U of T’s vice-president of research and innovation, Vivek Goel, stated that the projects will also involve innovations for clinical trials that are expected to take place within a few years.

“[The research projects] will help strengthen U of T’s reputation as a global centre in the growing field of regenerative medicine and cell therapy, power Toronto’s vibrant biomedical ecosystem and—most importantly—lay the foundation for improved outcomes for patients around the world,” said Goel in the article.

“These projects are bringing together leading life scientists, engineers, doctors, and computer scientists at U of T and our partner hospitals to tackle and solve some of the biggest hurdles in regenerative medicine,” stated U of T’s president Meric Gertler, in the U of T News article.

The plan for the recent investment is to be distributed over three years, for a proportion of $9 million per year that will be shared among 20 teams of research staff.