November 17, 2009
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Awardees were announced today for CIHR’s Canadian Health Research Awards and for the Prix Galien Canada. It’s great to see awards that cross such a broad spectrum: basic and applied research; and molecular and population-based approaches.
The CIHR awardees are:
- Dr. Nahum Sonenberg at McGill for his pioneering work on translation control mechanisms, opening the door to new treatments for diseases such as cancer and HIV/AIDS.
- Dr. Michael Boyle at McMaster for his work on the relationship between children’s health and their environment, and for his work to improve research techniques and methodology in this area.
- Dr. Lynne-Marie Postovit at Western for her work on how oxygen levels and other micro-environmental signals influence the behaviour and development of normal and cancer stem cells.
The Prix Galien Canada consists of two prizes — the Research Award and the Innovative Product Award:
- Dr. Donald Weaver at Dalhousie is receiving the Prix Galien Research Award for his efforts to design novel drug therapies to treat chronic neurological disorders such as epilepsy and Alzheimer’s.
- Pfizer Canada Inc. is receiving the Prix Galien for Innovative Product for Champix™ (pdf), the first in a new class of prescription medications to help people stop smoking.
Congratulations to the winners! Hope everyone had a good time in Ottawa tonight.
July 15, 2009
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Pfizer Global Research and Development is contributing $6 million and the Ontario government is contributing $900,000, through the Biopharmaceutical Investment Program (BIP), for a new project “to discover and validate new targets for the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of colorectal cancer.” Brad Wouters, a Senior Scientist with the Ontario Cancer Institute (OCI) and a Senior Investigator at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR), will lead the project.
Here’s the scoop from the OICR press release:
“Dr. Wouters and a team of scientists at OCI and OICR will use genomic and molecular pathology approaches and develop a large clinical biobank to identify molecular signatures in colorectal cancer. These molecular signatures will be used to accelerate the development of biomarkers for early detection, monitoring and treatment of cancer.”
The Canadian Press article includes some additional background info on the project, which Paul Lévesque, president of Pfizer Canada, says began with a trip by Ontario researchers to meet Pfizer scientists in San Diego almost two years ago.
February 25, 2009
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The question this week: a shot in the arm or a kick in the teeth?
A shot in the arm for:
- Fewer shots in the arm! (har)
- British Columbia is the first jurisdiction in North America to offer a children’s vaccine called Infanrix-hexa™, which contains six immunizations in one, resulting in three fewer needles in the overall B.C. infant vaccine schedule, and
- With the discovery of a constant region of flu virus protein hemagglutinin, a universal flu vaccine may be possible (no more yearly shots);
- The Naval Surface Warfare Center in White Oak, a suburb of Washington, where the FDA is spending $1.15 billion to consolidate its offices and labs and to anchor a new biotech hub;
- Pine Island, near Rochester, Minnesota, which could soon be the home to a new biotech research, development and manufacturing park with the help of up to $900 million in funding reportedly pledged by Steve Burrill. Funding announcements also from Maryland and Pittsburgh;
- Sustainable agriculture, when the White House announced its nominee for second-in-command at USDA: Kathleen Merrigan of Tufts University, who had been a top choice of the Cornucopia Institute to run USDA’s National Organic Program;
- The National Science Foundation, from the stimulus (a $3 billion boost) and the budget (a 6.7% increase, to $6.49 billion);
- Multiple Sclerosis, with Merck, Novartis, Teva, Biogen Idec and Sanofi Aventis all planning to release new oral therapeutics between now and 2012;
- Conflict of interest disclosure, with a new editorial in PLoS Medicine;
- Deterrence, with the arrest of four animal-rights extremists;
- Organ failure biomarkers,
- with the discovery of liver toxicity-associated MicroRNAs, and
- with the injection by Pfizer Canada of $1 million to the PROOF Centre to fund research into vital organ failure biomarkers; and
A kick in the teeth for:
February 11, 2009
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Deep Appreciation:for Phillip Terrence Ragon, founder and sole proprietor of database-software provider InterSystems who donated $100 million to establish a research institute that focuses on expediting the development of an AIDS vaccine, and to Pfizer Canada which contributed a further $2 million to British Columbia’s Center for Drug Research and Development (CDRD); and The State of Georgia is contemplating a $180 million bioscience research park.
Social Agitation: French scientists decided their street protests were their best approach to halting the government’s science and higher education reforms and rejected mediation.
Better Cogitation:Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) shows neuroprotective effects in animal models of Alzheimers’, but it won’t stop cries of ‘brain drain’ following Canada’s 2009 Budget.
Free Publication: ScienceInsider reports that Rep. Conyers’ (D-MI) bill that would eliminate free full-text publication of NIH-funded research is back on the table this session.
Self Regulation:More Pharma companies are implementing voluntary disclosure of physician payments (under threat of legislation); and some researchers are taking steps to prevent disclosures of potentially harmful research (under threat of annihilation).
Reconsideration: Researchers at Emory decided that flu pandemic deaths in 1918 may have been primarily from bacterial superinfections rather than the virus itself; Icahn decided to nominate another slate of Biogen-Idec directors; Everybody decided to take another look at their luciferase screening assay controls; and the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) decided to take another look at payment for PSA testing for prostate cancer detection.
January 28, 2009
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Things that caught my eye this week:
The FDA made Geron very happy; Sarkozy made French scientists very unhappy.
Here at home, some regulatory milestones for Oncolytics, Welichem and Pfizer Canada.
Europe’s R&D intensity (spending as a percentage of GDP) was stagnant overall from 2000 to 2006, but at least a few detractors are out of commission.
And last, since we don’t want to dwell on the negative, some advice from PwC on transfer pricing and other more general approaches to weathering the downturn.