Faculty of Medicine grant to move innovative research from the lab to the market

Faculty of Medicine
Research and Innovation
Financial aid and awards

By David McFadden

Research Writer, University of Ottawa

Scientist in the lab
With a paradigm-shifting grant, the uOttawa Faculty of Medicine is supporting new innovative research projects as more investigators in our vibrant bio-innovation ecosystem seek to translate their most exciting ideas and inventions into tangible commercial applications that can benefit the world.

The Path to Patenting & Pre-commercialization (3P) grant program is all about expanding the reach of our researchers’ discoveries while providing assistance to first-time inventors as they navigate the complex process of scientific entrepreneurship. It accomplishes this by providing funding for experiments needed for intellectual property protection and commercialization, assessing market access, and brainstorming lab-to-commercialization plans with the guidance of industry experts.

Dr. Erin Mulvihill
Dr. Erin Mulvihill

Earlier this year, the first three awardees in the Faculty’s commercialization-of-research grant were announced after the competitive program’s launch. Now, four new high-quality projects have made the cut for 3P’s second round. They range from enterprises focusing on metabolic disease and cancer screening to TB therapy and DNA assembly.

Here are the latest grant winners seeking to move Faculty of Medicine research from the lab to the market:

  • “Turning up the heat on DNA assembly: a novel use for extremophilic viral DNA polymerases” led by Dr. Ryan Russell
  • “Host-directed therapy for Tuberculosis” led by Dr. Jim Sun
  • “DPP4-cleavage resistant therapies for metabolic disease and atherosclerosis” led by Dr. Erin Mulvihill
  • “Viral 5’UTRs that enhance translation of transgenes from oncolytic HSV1, and method of identifying and screening thereof” led by Dr. Tommy Alain.

Dr. Daniel Figeys, Director of the uOttawa School of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Interim Director of Innovation and Partnerships, says the growing strength of the 3P program will only help accelerate the development of spin-off and innovation at the Faculty of Medicine and its affiliated institutes.

“3P is now mainstream and expanding with the University adding to its fund and new external partners joining the board,” Dr. Figeys says.

Dr. Jim Sun
Dr. Jim Sun

Indeed, uOttawa’s Office of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation (OVPRI) will now invest in the Faculty’s 3P program to support its most promising projects. It’s part of its strategic investments in initiatives that will unleash the commercialization potential of high-impact research across the University of Ottawa.

“Supporting promising early-stage research projects with strong commercial potential, in partnership with the Faculty of Medicine’s innovative 3P program, is one of the many ways the Office of the Vice-President Research and Innovation is fostering excellence, relevance and impact within our research community,” says Sylvain Charbonneau, Vice-President, Research and Innovation at the oVPRI.

Dr. Ryan Russell
Dr. Ryan Russell

Momentum is building. Dr. Figeys notes that the innovative projects from the grant program will also help “pave the way to the launch of the AMRC’s innovation and commercialization plans.” That’s a reference to uOttawa’s Advanced Medical Research Centre (AMRC), a 350,000 square-foot complex on the Alta Vista campus that will serve as a cauldron of new bio-innovation ideas and start-up ventures when it is slated to open in 2025.

Industry partners are intrigued by the commercial prospects of the uOttawa Faculty of Medicine’s bio-innovations as Canada increasingly positions itself as a global leader in health sciences.

“The 3P program is well positioned to be a critical driver of bio-innovation at uOttawa,” says Amie Phinney, Senior Director at adMare BioInnovations. “Bringing academic-initiated projects into commercially viable companies requires resources and commitment, both of which the uOttawa Faculty of Medicine is offering through the 3P program. We are proud to support this initiative.”

Dr. Tommy Alain
Dr. Tommy Alain

Théo Risopoulos, Principal, Theodorus Investment Funds, says there is a “world-class mix of cutting-edge science and ambitious researchers” at uOttawa offering great potential for project commercialization.

“It is more important than ever to help those research projects get on the path to commercialization,” he says.

What’s next for 3P? Faculty of Medicine members are polishing up their proof-of-concepts for the next round’s deadline. Applications are reviewed internally by a funding committee composed of non-applicant uOttawa professors and affiliated research institutes, with representation from industry.

Applicants must be researchers with a primary academic appointment in the Faculty of Medicine. There’s a potential one-to-one grant match if the research is done within uOttawa affiliated institutes.