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About Sickkids
About SickKids

May 14, 2008

SickKids Researchers celebrated at Innovation Awards Dinner

Toronto – Three SickKids researchers were presented with Ontario Research Commercialization Program (ORCP) BioDiscovery Toronto awards at a dinner held at MaRS Discovery District on May 14. Drs. Jayne Danska, Deborah O'Connor, and Walid Farhat were each awarded $50,000 to pursue commercial development and prototyping of their intellectual property.

Dr. Farhat, staff urologist, associate scientist in Developmental & Stem Cell Biology and associate professor of Surgery & Urology at the University of Toronto , and Dr. Herman Yeger, senior scientist in Developmental & Stem Cell Biology and associate professor of Laboratory Medicine & Pathobiology at the University of Toronto , together created a urinary tissue bioreactor which is designed to mechanically simulate normal bladder functions. Drs. Farhat and Yeger plan to use this tool to study regeneration of urinary bladder tissue, and to examine ways to artificially create bladder tissue outside of the human body. They will use this award to enhance this first generation prototype and develop a stand-alone unit complete with computerized control and analysis systems capable of a variety of research and clinical-based applications.

Dr. Jayne Danska, senior scientist in the Genetics & Genome Biology program at SickKids and professor in the Departments of Immunology and Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto, and Dr. John Dick, senior scientist in the Division of Cellular & Molecular Biology at the University Health Network, have been collaborating to understand mechanisms that regulate human haematopoietic stem cell (HSC) growth and transplantation. HSCs are self-renewing stem cells that produce all blood cell types and are used in transplantation treatment for multiple blood-based diseases. Drs. Danska and Dick will use the funds to develop targeted therapies to improve HSC engraftment, accelerate haematopoietic recovery post-transplantation, and improve engraftment efficiency using fewer stem cells. This award will assist them in developing new diagnostics for matching HSC donors and recipients and in developing new therapeutics to support HSC engraftment. These innovations may increase opportunities for using HSC transplantation and improve transplant outcomes and long-term survival of patients undergoing stem cell transplantation.

Dr. Deborah O'Connor, director of Clinical Dietetics, senior associate scientist, Physiology & Experimental Medicine at SickKids, and associate professor of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto , is receiving this award to support the development of a product that would facilitate human milk feeding of very low birth weight and ill term-born infants. Because of the lack of specialized products, for very low birth weight or ill term-born infants, these babies are frequently switched to a disease/condition specific commercially available infant formula or their families are faced with preparing complicated human milk-containing recipes. The latter recipes are prone to error and often dilute the volume of human milk fed to these vulnerable children. Because of its unique nutritional and immunological components, human milk is the ideal source of nutrition for infants. Dr. O'Connor hopes the work of her group helps to promote human milk feeding in the most vulnerable of Canadian infants.

For more information, please contact:

Public Affairs
The Hospital for Sick Children
555 University Avenue
Suite 1742, Public Affairs, First floor Atrium
Toronto, ON
M5G 1X8
Phone: 416-813-5058
Fax: 416-813-5328