Atul Humar, M.D., MSc., FRCP(C)
Organ failure, defined as the inability of an organ to function in sustaining homeostasis, is a pervasive medical problem that results in immense personal and economic costs, morbidity, and death. Resulting in over 50,000 deaths per year in Canada, organ failure costs society in excess of $20 billion annually.
At present, the only truly effective treatment for organ failure is transplantation. The deficiencies of this option are increasingly apparent, and include a chronic shortage of donor organs, side effects from harsh immunosuppressive medications, and chronic rejection leading to the eventual loss of most transplanted organs. Thus, it is apparent that organ failure constitutes a medical and social problem for which the best solutions are imperfect and temporary.
Regenerative Medicine: Hope for the Future
Despite this discouraging state of affairs, there are developments on the horizon that hold great promise. The nascent field of regenerative medicine, defined as the practice of repair, regeneration, or replacement of tissues and organs that have failed, has enormous potential to revolutionize diagnostic and therapeutic approaches via the development of radical new therapies. This broad field encompasses numerous innovative areas including stem cell therapy, therapeutic cloning, tissue engineering, tolerance research, and gene therapy.
At present, there are few scientists and practitioners of regenerative medicine, and no comprehensive training program exists in this important field in Canada or--to our knowledge--anywhere in the world. The mandate of the CIHR Training Program in Regenerative Medicine ensure that there will be qualified researchers and practitioners to develop and practice in this field which has the potential to greatly reduce medical and social costs, to provide qualified, innovative personnel for the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, and to prolong and improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of Canadians.
This pioneering and comprehensive training program in all aspects of regenerative medicine, including:
Cutting-edge science and technologies at the interface of molecular therapy, stem cell technology, tissue engineering and innovative biomaterials
Ethics of emerging technologies and their impact on Canadian society and the world,
Clinical and outcomes research, and economics related to these emerging technologies
Biotechnology, technology transfer and public institutions
Trainees of the program will be well-poised to assume leadership roles in advancing the scientific development and clinical application of emerging discoveries, and will have a firm understanding of the political and business realities which impact on the treatment of organ failure
Professor of Medicine
Director, Transplant Program, University Health Network
R. Fraser Elliott Chair in Transplantation, University Health Network
Director, University of Toronto Transplantation Institute
Assistant Professor, Division of Cardiology and Transplant
University of Toronto
Education Director, Toronto Transplant Institute
Michael McDonald, MD, FRCP(C)
Transplant Program, University Health Network
University of Toronto Transplant Institute