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Stem Cell Network - SCN

$83.3 million for 2001-17
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Stem Cell Network

Number of partners

Partner contributions
$78.2 million

University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario

Scientific Director
Michael Rudnicki Michael Rudnicki

Board chair
Verna Skanes Verna Skanes,
Adjunct professor of medicine at Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's

Strengthening Canada's global leadership in stem cell research

The opportunity

Canada’s rise as an international powerhouse in stem cell research was no accident. It began with a series of breakthrough discoveries in the 1960s by James Till and Ernest McCulloch at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto. That foundational research trained a generation of world-class scientists who propelled Canada to the top of the charts in regenerative medicine. A group of those scientists came together in 2001 with the launch of the first national enterprise focused on translating stem cell research into clinical applications, commercial products and public policy. Canada is now poised to be among the first beneficiaries of stem cell therapies for cancer, type 1 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and many other illnesses.

How SCN is seizing the opportunity

The Stem Cell Network combines Canada’s internationally recognized strength in stem cell biology with world-class expertise in bioengineering, ethics, clinical practice and commercial expertise from industry partners. More than 130 leading scientists, clinicians, engineers, and ethicists from universities and hospitals across Canada work in partnership with government, industry and NGOs to move the most promising research projects towards clinical trials. SCN’s support of research and training of more than 1,800 highly qualified personnel has propelled Canada’s global leadership in many areas of stem cell research, including drug discovery, clinical trials, stem cell banking, and ethical, legal and social issues.

Among the results

  • Twelve SCN-funded projects have entered the clinical trial phase, including one for a readily available and commonly used drug that holds great promise in stimulating stem cells in the brain to improve or restore brain function.
  • SCN research projects have contributed greatly to global efforts to understand and create safe pluripotent stem cells, including direct reprogramming of skin cells into blood cells and the identification of a genetic “switch” that regulates stem cell pluripotency.
  • SCN was instrumental in supporting the creation and growth of two other NCE-funded organizations: the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (funded as a CECR in 2011) and the CellCAN Regenerative Medicine and Cell Therapy Network (funded as a Knowledge Mobilization NCE in 2014).
  • SCN helped to establish several new organizations, including the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation, the Cancer Stem Cell Consortium, the International Consortium of Stem Cell Networks, the International Regulome Consortium, and StemBase, the largest stem cell gene expression database in the world.
  • Technology transfer offices at universities across Canada now use a standardized toolkit for intellectual property, developed in partnership with SCN.
  • SCN’s contributions to developing a policy statement and providing expert testimony to Parliament on the need for a public cord blood bank in Canada were central to the formation of a national cord blood banking program that launched in 2013.

Connect with SCN


November 24, 2016
December 23, 2014
December 11, 2014
October 20, 2014
September 12, 2014
Canadian stem cell research leads to groundswell of new clinical trials
April 27, 2015
Canadian patients are poised to be among the first globally to receive safe, cutting-edge and rigorously tested stem cell therapies for cancer, Type 1 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and many other chronic illnesses. That’s thanks to a 14-year national initiative to accelerate the clinical use of early-stage research and make Canada the go-to country for patient trials. Read more
Building Canada's Strengths: Regenerative Medicine
April 17, 2014
Canada is recognized as a global leader in stem cell and bioengineering science, with over 400 stem cell scientists working in 68 research centres within, or affiliated with, 25 Canadian universities. Given its rich history of research excellence in the field, this country is uniquely placed to be one of the earliest beneficiaries of stem cell advances. Read more
Stem cell breakthroughs could end shortage of vital blood cells
July 12, 2013
Researchers with the Stem Cell Network have identified several genes, proteins, small molecules and culture methods that enable human blood cells to be expanded in the laboratory, breakthroughs that could greatly expand patients’ access to valuable therapies. Read more
The NCE highlights the important contributions of the social sciences and humanities at Congress 2013
June 10, 2013
Research into human thought and behaviour is an essential part of successful innovation and addressing the complex challenges facing Canadians. Read more about how unique contributions from the social sciences and humanities help NCE-funded networks and centres address the full scope of their mandates. Read more
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SCN 2016 Research Funding Results
December 8, 2016
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Dr. Michael Rudnicki - Stem Cell Funding
November 24, 2016
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Minister Kirsty Duncan - Stem Cell Funding
November 24, 2016
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TMM2016 Kirsty Duncan - SCN Impact Funding
October 31, 2016
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TMM2016 - Opening welcome from Jane Philpott
October 24, 2016
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What is a neural stem cell? Narrated by Dr. Sam Weiss
August 11, 2016
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What is a hematopoietic stem cell? Narrated by Dr. Connie Eaves
August 4, 2016
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What is a retinal stem cell? Narrated by Dr. Derek van der Kooy
July 28, 2016
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What is a cancer stem cell? Narrated by Dr. John Dick
July 21, 2016
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What is a stem cell? Narrated by Dr. Jim Till
June 23, 2016
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Stem Cell Researchers Thank You 2016
June 17, 2016
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What is a retinal stem cell? Narrated by Dr. Derek van der Kooy
October 31, 2014
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What is a cancer stem cell? Narrated by Dr. John Dick
October 23, 2014
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What are induced pluripotent stem cells? Narrated by Dr. Mick Bhatia
October 22, 2014
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What is stem cell tourism? Narrated by Professor Timothy Caulfield
June 17, 2014
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What are embryonic stem cells? Narrated by Dr. Janet Rossant
September 23, 2013
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What is a stem cell? Narrated by Dr. Jim Till
September 18, 2013