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UBC and federal government announce new hub for biomedical innovation

By Grace Jenkins

The federal government and the University of British Columbia announced the establishment of a Vancouver-based research hub with the goal to help Canada face the next pandemic.

Canada’s Immuno-Engineering and Biomanufacturing Hub (CIEBH) at UBC, is one of five national research hubs created as part of Canada’s Biomanufacturing and Life Sciences Strategy. The national research hubs will work together to improve pandemic readiness and the overall health and well-being of Canadians. The CIEBH builds on the strength and momentum of BC’s biotechnology sector, with the goal of ensuring that UBC, B.C. and Canada remain at the forefront of health research initiatives.

“The Immuno-Engineering and Biomanufacturing Hub is a testament to Canada's commitment to innovation and collaboration and will position our country as a global leader in developing immune-based therapeutics,” says the Honourable Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, who spoke at an event announcing the CIEBH at UBC’s Robert. H. Lee Alumni Centre.

Creating a healthier future

The hub is a vision born out of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the intent to “future-proof” Canada’s ability to develop medicines. The goal is to create a “seamless drug development pipeline” that will enable Canada to respond to future pandemics and health challenges with homegrown solutions in fewer than one hundred days. The CIEBH will position Canada as a world leader and global epicentre for the development and manufacturing of next-generation immune-based mRNA therapeutics.

“It’s about creating a healthier future for all Canadians,” says Dr. Deborah Buszard, interim president and vice-chancellor of UBC.

Fueling B.C.’s biomedical community

The announcement of the CIEBH poises B.C.’s biotechnology sector for “a major boost.” The hub has more than 50 partners from the private, public academic, not-for-profit, and academic sectors, including Providence Health Care. $570 million in federal funds are available to support projects and proposals coming out of the five national research hubs, including the CIEBH.

This federal investment will enable UBC and its CIEBH partners to pursue an integrated program of biomedical research and talent development to fuel Canada’s biotechnology industry and life sciences sector, along with building infrastructure, lab spaces and technology to support the development and manufacturing of medical treatments in B.C. and Canada.

“The future of medicine is happening right now, right here in Canada,” says UBC Vice-President, Health, Dr. Dermot Kelleher. “UBC researchers and spin-off companies enabled the development of the COVID-19 vaccine and other therapies at record speed. Now, through this hub, we will bring together the extraordinary expertise of B.C. and Canada’s biomedical community to bring transformative new health solutions to Canadians sooner.”

You can read the full press release here.