$30M McMaster donation aimed at advancing research
The Canadian Press
Published Monday, February 6, 2012 6:15AM EST
TORONTO - A family foundation is donating $30 million to McMaster University to accelerate innovations in health research, education and patient care.
The donation by the Marta and Owen Boris Foundation was announced Monday at McMaster in Hamilton, where the Boris family lives.
"McMaster University has proven its ability to fast-forward discoveries from the lab bench to the patients' bedside. It made perfect sense to make this investment in this world-class university," Les Boris said on behalf of his parents' foundation.
Of the total donation, $24 million has been earmarked to establish the Boris Family Centre in Human Stem Cell Therapies, with the aim of hastening the commercial development of discoveries at the university's Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute.
The six-year-old institute has had several major breakthroughs, including the ability to generate blood from stem cells grown from human skin.
"In a short time, we've become world-renowned for our human stem cell discoveries. Now is the time to move these discoveries to the patient," said Mick Bhatia, scientific director of the research institute.
The money also will be used to: establish two senior research chairs, one in blood stem cells and the other in neural stem cells; set up several fellowships and technician positions; build the facility; and provide a fund for emerging opportunities.
The remaining $6 million will be used to set up a clinic that will allow patients with complex health problems to see several specialists and have related tests during one visit.
The new format is unique in Canada and will put patients first, Dr. Akbar Panju, a professor in McMaster's department of medicine, said in a release.
"Too often patients go from office to office to receive essential medical care from several specialists. This clinic will ensure they will get everything they need in one place," he said, noting that the clinic will also be a centre of learning for health sciences students and medical residents.
The foundation was established by Marta and Owen Boris, who created the Hamilton cable company Mountain Cablevision and developed it over 50 years before selling it to Shaw Communications in 2009. Owen Boris died last April.