Western University researchers will receive $20 million dollars as members of the newly formed Heart and Stroke Foundation Research Leadership Circle.
The funding, part of a $300 million multi-year commitment to 19 of Canada’s leading research institutions, is designed to accelerate the progress of the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s goal to reduce Canadians – rate of death from heart disease and stroke by 25 per cent by 2020. Western will receive the funding over a ten-year period.
“As a research-intensive university, Western is focused on expanding knowledge and making new discoveries,” said John Capone, Western’s VP (Research). “This funding will help our researchers find new technologies and treatments to save lives and improve quality of life for those living with cardiovascular diseases.”
David Hess, an Assistant Professor in Western’s Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, has received previous funding from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, having been awarded its MacDonald Scholarship and New Investigator Salary Award.
Hess’ research focuses on the development of cellular therapies to mediate the repair of diseased, damaged, or ischemic tissues. Specific applications for his work include the use of transplanted human stem cells to promote wound healing and blood vessel formation, and to regenerate insulin-producing beta cells during diabetes.
“Effective and productive research takes both time and funding,” said Hess, who is also a researcher at Robarts Research Institute’s Krembil Centre for Stem Cell Biology. “The ability to plan our research over the long-term, knowing that there will be funding available, provides a stability that allows us to think big and focus on results.”
Western has a long history of research success in cardiovascular health. Dr. Henry Barnett’s research and work in stroke prevention has changed the way stroke patients receive treatment. He conducted the first randomized trial to show that aspirin prevents stroke and that good medical treatment for stroke patients was more effective than the surgical treatment being used widely at the time.  Barnett was the founding Chief of the Department of Clinical Neurological Sciences at Western University and University Hospital, as well as the founding President and Scientific Director of Roberts Research Institute. He is a member of The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.
Since 1952, the Foundation has provided more than $1.35 billion to heart and stroke research – second only to the federal government. But, it has never committed funding at this level for this length of time with an aim to support long-term research planning.
“The Research Leadership Circle is designed to address an urgent need to save more lives faster,” said David Sculthorpe, CEO, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. “Our $20 million commitment to Western researchers will provide an improved ability to plan major research projects, foster greater collaboration and attract even more of the world’s best researchers to fight these diseases.”
Each year, the Foundation funds almost 1,500 researchers in medical institutes, universities, hospitals, and communities across the country. This new approach commits longer term funding to partner research institutions whose research programs are most likely to advance Foundation goals.
Notwithstanding the advance commitments to the 19 Research Leadership Circle partners, the Foundation’s merit-based, peer review process will continue to govern all funding.
ABOUT THE HEART AND STROKE FOUNDATION OF CANADA
The Heart and Stroke Foundation, a volunteer-based health charity, leads in eliminating heart disease and stroke, reducing their impact through preventing disease, saving lives and promoting recovery. Healthy lives free of heart disease and stroke. Together we will make it happen.