The Short Report - Sept. 29, 2021: Alan Bernstein forgoes third term as CIFAR's CEO & President, UHN receives funding gift for psychedelic psychotherapy, and more

Cindy Graham
September 29, 2021


A charitable foundation promoting research and education on the use of psychedelic medicines is contributing $5 million to establish a psychedelic psychotherapy research centre at the University Health Network in Toronto. The Nikean Foundation's contribution is the largest donation in support of psychedelic science and research in Canada. The Centre will be led by Dr. Susan Abbey, Psychiatrist-in-Chief of the Centre for Mental Health at UHN and Dr. Emma Hapke, who was a Principal Investigator with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). – Nikean

TELUS Health is contributing $100,000 towards print and online resources published by Ryerson University's National Institute on Aging that will inform older adults and their caregivers on how technology can enhance social inclusion, functional ability, health, well-being and safety to help maintain independent and active lives. This comes as more Canadians report they plan to live at home as long as possible in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. – NIA

The University of Waterloo is teaming up with auto parts supplier Magna International and the federal government to develop tools and software to improve the safety and security of connected and automated vehicles. Magna and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council are each contributing $600,000 over five years towards the project while UWaterloo will provide $400,000. – UWaterloo

Université du Québec à Montréal, Concordia University and partners including the Société du parc Jean-Drapeau and the City of Montreal have launched an ecological transitions hub in alignment with the United Nations' sustainable development goals. The Campus de la transition écologique will receive $450,000 over three years from the Government of Quebec while the city of Montreal will contribute $75,000. UQAM plans to use the facility's new Resilient City Center, which will be launched shortly, "to respond to the challenges and concerns of cities by equipping municipal stakeholders with the best practices to adopt in order to accelerate the fight against climate change. ” – UQAM Journal de Montreal

Nuclear utility Bruce Power has received approval from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to use CANDU reactors to provide large-scale capacity production of medical isotopes, which makes it the first power reactor globally to commercially produce Lutetium-177, an innovative therapeutic isotope used in the treatment of prostate cancer and neuroendocrine tumors. The other partners in the venture are Saugeen Ojibway Nation, ITM (Germany) and IsoGen, a joint venture between Framatome (France) and Kinectrics (Etobicoke, Ont.). – Bruce Power

The Epilepsy Research Program of the Ontario Brain Institute (EpLink) issued a top 10 list of research priorities for stakeholders in the epilepsy community at the Canadian League Against Epilepsy Congress Scientific meeting held Sept 24-26. The list is the result of a two-year collaboration with the UK-based James Lind Alliance and the Ontario Brain Institute, which saw Canadians submit and prioritize their most pressing questions related to epilepsy and seizures. The list was reached by consensus at a virtual workshop involving members of the epilepsy community. – EpLink

Diagnostic & therapeutics company KSL Biomedical (Buffalo, N.Y.) has acquired Pulse Scientific (Burlington, Ont.) and established KSL Biomedical Canada, extending its international base for product distribution and laboratory sales and positioning the company to merge technology, business lines, and acquisition targets in Burlington and the Greater Toronto Area. – KSL Biomedical

Lakeland College has opened its new Agriculture Technology Centre on its Vermilion campus. The centre will deliver Canada’s first degree program in agriculture technology and house applied research activities based in part from sustainability data generated from Lakeland's commercial-scale student-managed farm. – Lakeland College

Protein Industries Canada has launched a sector roadmap outlining steps to advance Canada’s plant-based food, feed and ingredients sector and to support its goal of supplying the ingredients for 10 percent of global plant-based food products by 2035, when it is estimated that plant-based food will see upwards of $25 billion in annual sales. – PIC

The latest Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan, Ottawa) survey shows applied research at Canadian colleges and institutes is growing. Colleges and institutes saw 19 percent growth over the two years between CICan’s 2017–2018 survey and this latest survey covering the 2019–2020 fiscal year. The results also show that while government funding remains critical there is growing support for applied research projects, with private sector funding now on par with federal government funding and increasing by 42 percent over two years. – CICan

Data management startup Alphabyte Solutions (Vaughan, Ont.) has created an online platform that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to boost engagement with federal politics by helping Canadians track parliamentary proceedings. The platform, called Parlawatch, uses natural language processing to generate daily summaries from Question Period as well as visualizations that show which topics are discussed in Parliament and the sentiments of political parties on various issues. “We try and condense proceedings in a way that’s understandable to the average person,” says lead project and data scientist Lyndon Chan. – U of T


VC capital firm 500 Global (San Francisco) is launching an accelerator to foster high-potential technology companies along the Alberta Innovation Corridor which encompasses Edmonton, Calgary and rural Alberta. Alberta Innovates, Alberta's research and innovation agency, chose Alberta Accelerator by 500 as one of four proposals that will receive a collective total of about $35 million in federal, provincial and municipal funding through the Alberta Innovates Scaleup and Growth Accelerator Program (Scaleup GAP). – Alberta Innovates

Halifax-based biofibre manufacturing startup 3D BioFibR has raised $700,000 in an oversubscribed seed funding round with investments from Concrete Ventures (Halifax) and Globalive Capital (Toronto). 3D BioFibR uses a proprietary dry-spinning process to produce fibers from collagen and spider silk, which has potential uses in biomedical engineering (tissue culture research), green textiles, and defense and aerospace applications. The company received non-equity assistance from the Creative Destruction Lab's entrepreneurship program last January, bringing its total funding amount to $1.3 million. 3D BioFibR says funds from this round will allow them to optimize their manufacturing process and secure commercial partnerships. – 3D BioFibR Betakit


Dr. Alan Bernstein has announced he won't seek renewal for a third term as President and CEO of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) when his second term finishes in May 2022. In his two terms as CIFAR's president and CEO, Bernstein was responsible for developing and leading strategic direction and was an early champion of women in science and young scientists. In addition to serving as chair or a member of advisory and review boards in Canada, the U.S., U.K., Italy, and Australia, Bernstein also co-chaired the scientific advisory committee for Stand Up 2 Cancer Canada, is a member of the Sabin-Aspen Vaccine Science and Policy Group and the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In May 2020, he was appointed to Canada’s COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force and in February 2021 he was appointed Chair of the Variants of Concern, Scientific Advisory Council. – CIFAR

Navdeep Bains, the former minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, is joining CIBC as vice chair of global investment banking on October 4. Bains will focus on "...fostering senior level client relationships and business development globally," and joins former Conservative cabinet minister Lisa Raitt, who was also hired by CIBC in January 2020 as vice chair of global investment banking. – CIBC

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