Transforming Discovery into Opportunity

Zebrafish Core Facility at Dalhousie / CDRD Atlantic Node Receives Federal Investment to Build National Centre of Orphan Drug Research

Posted on: September 14th, 2016 by jwhite

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On September 13th, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) announced a $4.5M investment in the Zebrafish Core Facility at Dalhousie University in Halifax which serves as the centerpiece of CDRD’s Atlantic Node.

The funding includes $3M from ACOA’s Atlantic Innovation Fund, $1M from AGADA Biosciences Inc. and $500K from Dalhousie’s medical research foundation. This will enable Dalhousie researchers led by Dr. Christopher McMaster to work with commercial partners and CDRD to develop new health science start-up companies to move new drug treatments from the lab to the market for inherited childhood diseases, including familial exudative vitreoretinopathy (FEVR or childhood blinding), the inherited form of Parkinson’s, and muscular dystrophies.

The projects will leverage the scientific expertise within the Zebrafish Core Facility, and its extensive knowledge of zebrafish as a drug-screening tool, to identify future focus areas for future drug development efforts.

This important funding will allow CDRD to expand upon our scientific and commercial collaborations in Canada’s Atlantic region; and bring new treatments for rare diseases one step closer to patients. It also underscores the Federal Government’s strong commitment to science and technology in this country, and to taking decisive action to ensure Canada solidifies a position amongst global innovation leaders.

The CDRD Atlantic Node was established in 2013 to leverage the expertise, infrastructure, and pioneering research of Dr. Jason Berman’s laboratory. Since then, the Node has grown to a new larger state-of-the-art facility in the Life Science Research Institute on Dalhousie’s campus. Through this Node, zebrafish models of disease, immunology and oncology are being utilized to benefit a number of CDRD’s drug development projects stemming from its network of over 50 leading Canadian health research institutions and select international centres.

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From the September 13th announcement: Dr. Johane Robitaille, pediatric ophthalmologist; Nick Gentleman, FEVR patient; Dr. Chris McMaster, head of Zebrafish facility; Dr. David Anderson, Dean, Dalhousie’s Faculty of Medicine; Stephen Hartlen, Executive Director of Industry Liaison and Innovation and Assistant VP, Industry Relations at Dalhousie.

Please see the full announcement from ACOA and related media coverage at:

* Photos courtesy of Dalhousie University

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