The Toronto Centre for Phenogenomics

The Toronto Centre for Phenogenomics

June 03, 2005 11:00 ET

Mouse Clinic lays the foundation for scientific discovery

Ceremony launches $68-million Toronto Centre for Phenogenomics Attention: City Editor, Health/Medical Editor, News Editor, Science Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO--(CCNMatthews - June 3, 2005) - A new research facility in the heart of the downtown medical and academic research core will soon be home to genetically altered mice which hold the keys that can unlock secrets about some of the world's most complex - and devastating - human diseases.

With a broad range of state-of-the-art technologies and a team of elite Canadian scientists housed under one roof, the $68-million Toronto Centre for Phenogenomics (TCP) will be one of the world's most comprehensive discovery hubs for cures and treatments for chronic and often fatal diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and schizophrenia.

"The TCP promises to provide a unique local, national and international resource for studying mouse models of human disease," said Dr. Janet Rossant, CEO of the Centre, at an official "laying the foundation" ceremony held Friday to mark construction of the 120,000-square-foot facility, set to open in 2006 in Mount Sinai Hospital's Lebovic Research Centre

With the mouse genome, or DNA sequence, fully mapped out, scientists have discovered that mice and humans share 95 per cent of their 30,000 genes. That means mice can be made that have the same genetic alterations that are witnessed in human diseases.

"Mouse models allow us to mimic genetic alterations that cause disease in people," said Dr. Rossant. "From there, we can map out potential cures and treatments for the devastating illnesses which are killing millions of people or having severe effects on their quality of life."

"Toronto researchers are leaders in mouse genome research and collaborate worldwide," said Dr. Rossant. "The resources of the TCP in specialized areas like MRI imaging, behavioural testing, physiology and pathology, enhance the way mice can be used to help understand and treat these complex diseases which are becoming more prevalent around the globe."

Through resources such as the TCP 'mouse clinic,' researchers will be enabled to provide diagnosis, prognosis and testing of new treatments for human diseases.

The TCP is a partnership of four Toronto teaching hospitals affiliated with University of Toronto - Mount Sinai Hospital, the Hospital for Sick Children, University Health Network and St. Michael's Hospital.

"Our centre will not only be one of the largest in the world, it will bring together, in a one-stop shop, the experts of these world-class academic teaching hospitals," said Dr. Rossant. As well, the TCP will be affiliated with the vibrant new MaRS Discovery District up the street, a world-leading biomedical research consortium.

But the TCP will not be "Toronto-centric" said Dr. Rossant. In fact, its researchers will also freeze embryos and sperm of genetically altered research mice and distribute them to academic, industrial and pharmaceutical research partners through the Canadian Mouse Consortium to create a foundation for further research synergy. It will also archive and distribute genetically altered mice worldwide as part of an international consortium.

The Centre was made possible in large part through a $26.8-million grant from the Ontario Innovation Trust and a like amount from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), which together provide 80 per cent of construction and equipment costs.

"Scientists who will work at the Toronto Centre for Phenogenomics will be at the forefront of research," said the Honourable Tony Ianno, Minister of State and Member of Parliament for Trinity-Spadina. "By building a world-class research centre, Canadians will play a critical role in groundbreaking research that will not only benefit Canada, but people around the world."

By supporting cutting-edge research such as the TCP, the Ontario Government is investing in the future health and well-being of all Ontarians, says the Honourable Joseph Cordiano, Minister of Economic Development & Trade.

"The McGuinty Government is committed to supporting our world-class researchers by making sure they have the best tools they need to conduct these critical research projects," said Mr. Cordiano.

The partnering hospitals will provide the remaining 20 per cent of capital costs while the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund (ORDCF) and other funding agencies are helping to provide operating costs.

"This new facility will enable researchers to perform their cutting-edge work right here in Ontario," said Dr. Eliot Phillipson, President and CEO of the CFI. "The TCP is an impressive example of the type of partnerships that are essential to ensure Canada's success in the knowledge-based economy. This facility represents what the CFI is all about: providing the tools to institutions and researchers so that they can do the leading edge research that will benefit all Canadians."

The TCP will be governed by a Board comprised of senior leaders from the participating hospitals. It will include about 180,000 mice, in an estimated 30,000 holding cages, which will be inspected regularly by provincial and federal authorities. All research will be approved by local animal care committees.

"This Centre is an exciting opportunity for Toronto to stay at the forefront of genetic research world-wide," said Dr. Rossant.

The TCP is an innovative, scientific collaboration between four research hospitals to operate a centralized, state-of-the-art mouse facility for genetic research involving generation of mutant mice, physiological phenotyping, behavioural analysis, imaging, pathology and cryopreservation for storage and distribution. A partnership of the Hospital for Sick Children, Mount Sinai Hospital, St. Michael's Hospital, and University Health Network, the TCP will abide by all regulatory guidelines designed to ensure humane treatment of its mouse models.

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) is an independent corporation created by the Government of Canada to fund research infrastructure. The CFI's mandate is to strengthen the capacity of Canadian universities, colleges, research hospitals, and other non-profit research institutions to carry out world-class research and technology development that benefits Canadians.
/For further information: Christiane Fox
Office of the Honourable David L. Emerson
Minister of Industry
(613) 995-9001

Alastair Sinclair
Coordinator, Media Relations
Canada Foundation for Innovation
(613) 996-3160
Email: alastair.sinclair@innovation.ca
/ IN: ECONOMY, HEALTH, INTERNATIONAL, POLITICS, TECHNOLOGY

Contact Information

  • Rob McCartney, Manager, Media Relations, Mount Sinai Hospital
    Primary Phone: 416-586-3161
    E-mail: rmccartney@mtsinai.on.ca