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Dr. Jeremy (Jay) Hirota, Canada Research Chair in Respiratory Mucosal Immunology at the Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health at St. Joe’s, is one of three researchers to receive an infrastructure grant from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI). The announcement was made on April 18, 2018 by the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science.

Hirota was granted $180,000 towards his project – the Tissue Engineering for Advanced Medicine (TEAM) Lab. Operating out of the Firestone Institute, the research team will use 3D tissue printing techniques to construct novel human tissue that will be used in prevention, treatment, and diagnosis of respiratory disease.

Dr. Hirota faces the camera, smiling, from his lab.

“All of us are different – some tall – some short – some dark haired – some light haired – yet when it comes to treatment of disease – we are often treated all the same,” remarked Hirota. “We believe that a personalized approach to medicine is possible – and using this CFI investment in research – we aim to create tools that will allow for an individual to get personalized prevention, diagnosis, or treatment – unique to them as the colour of their eyes or their fingerprint.”

Funding was provided by CFI’s John Evans Leaders Fund (JELF), which aims to provide researchers with the foundational infrastructure required to undertake leading-edge research. The awards are given based on the researchers’ track record for excellence, the need for infrastructure and budget justification, the benefits to Canadians, and alignment with the host institute. Dr. Hirota has been working with Aspect Biosystems, an award-winning Canadian Biotechnology company based in Vancouver, BC, on tissue engineering since early 2015. The CFI funding will allow Dr. Hirota to continue this productive relationship aimed at improving human health and disease.

As many as three million Canadians who suffer from varying forms of respiratory disease could see improvements in treatment and overall quality of life as a result of this infrastructure investment.

In addition to the health benefits, there are also economic incentives for the infrastructure grants. Personalized prevention of respiratory diseases could lead to reduced health care needs, and the formation of spin-off companies using diagnostic tools based on the TEAM research would generate more jobs.

Rosann O’Reilly Runte, president of CFI, noted that scientific investments such as these help to keep researchers in Canada, build the economy, and contribute to solving the problems of the world.

Research will be conducted at the Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health. A world-renowned research centre, the Firestone Institute is dedicated to leveraging innovative research programs to improve prevention, diagnostics, and medicine for illnesses related to the lungs and chest.

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