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CDRD, Dal And IWK Establish New Atlantic Node

September 30, 2013; Vancouver, BC & Halifax, Nova Scotia: The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD), Canada’s fully-integrated national drug development and commercialization centre, and its partners Dalhousie University and the IWK Health Centre are pleased to announce they have come together to establish a new CDRD Atlantic Research Node, thus enhancing its drug development infrastructure and expertise to further support Canadian health researchers.

This CDRD Atlantic Node will initially be focused on zebrafish models of disease, leveraging the knowledge, expertise and infrastructure of Dr. Jason Berman’s laboratory where he and his research team conduct pioneering research using the zebrafish model to study hematopoiesis and oncogenesis. Currently, Dr. Berman’s laboratory is located at the IWK, but in 2014 he will move his team into 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 will be utilized to benefit appropriate CDRD drug development projects stemming from its network of over 30 leading Canadian health research institutions and select international centres. The CDRD Atlantic Node is also expected to be expanded into other areas as CDRD partners with additional experts throughout the region.

President and CEO of CDRD, Karimah Es Sabar commented, “We are excited to increase our national presence and establish this new inter-provincial CDRD Node with Dr. Berman and his associates. One of CDRD’s primary objectives is to increase the R&D resources available to Canadian researchers to advance their early-stage health-related discoveries towards commercialization; and one of our strategies to achieve this is to add to our existing extensive small molecule and biologics drug development platform by investing in and/or leveraging other leading-edge facilities that are unique and complementary in nature. As such, this is just the first in what we anticipate will be a pan-Canadian network of CDRD Research Nodes.”

“Zebrafish are transparent multi-celled organisms that rapidly generate a large number of offspring. This allows us to observe and manipulate gene networks, developmental processes and the interactions of diseased cells with their host environment in a more rapid and cost-effective manner than in other model systems,” said Dr. Jason Berman, Cancer Care Nova Scotia Peggy Davison Clinician Scientist, Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, IWK Health Centre, Associate Professor Departments of Pediatrics, Microbiology & Immunology and Pathology, Dalhousie University.  “Through this unique partnership with CDRD, we will harness the tremendous power of the zebrafish model for the purpose of drug discovery, effectively pioneering these approaches in Canada for the first time”.

“This is a great opportunity for Dr. Berman, Dalhousie University and the IWK Health Centre,” said Dr. Tom Marrie, Dean of Medicine, Dalhousie University. “This positions us as an innovation hub and a major player in the drug research development arena. It also recognizes the great research currently being undertaken by Dr. Berman and Dalhousie as a world leader in research excellence.”

“This is a wonderful opportunity for the IWK to collaborate with its partners to advance research in this important area,” remarked Dr. Patrick McGrath, Integrated Vice President, Research and Innovation, IWK Health Centre and Capital District Health Authority.

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About CDRD
CDRD is Canada’s fully-integrated national drug development and commercialization centre, providing expertise and infrastructure to enable researchers from leading health research institutions to advance promising early-stage drug candidates. Its mandate is to de-risk discoveries stemming from publicly-funded health research and transform them into viable investment opportunities for the private sector — thus successfully bridging the commercialization gap between academia and industry, and translating research discoveries into new therapies for patients. Canada’s Networks of Centres of Excellence Program has recognized CDRD as a Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR).

About Dalhousie University
Dalhousie University, located in Nova Scotia, is a world-renowned educational institution providing exemplary leadership in academia, research, and community. At the forefront of leading research initiatives, Dalhousie boasts one of the best student-faculty ratios in Canada and is home to nationally and internationally celebrated faculty members.  Across all campuses, you’ll find diversity among students, variety among programs and opportunity for personal and professional growth.

About IWK Health Centre
The IWK Health Centre provides quality care to women, children, youth and families in the Maritime provinces and beyond. The IWK is also engaged in leading-edge research; works to promote healthy lifestyles for families; and supports education opportunities for health professionals and other learners.