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Government of Canada invests in national health-focused research networks

New Western University based Canadian Arrhythmia Network will tackle heart rhythm problems

From left to right: Alex Mihailidis, Amit Chakma, Ed Holder, Vincent Dumez, Anthony Tang, Susan Truppe, Michael Strong, Michel Perron

Photo Gallery

December 15, 2014 London, Ontario Networks of Centres of Excellence

Five research networks have been named to conduct groundbreaking research that focuses on addressing various major health and life sciences issues.

The Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology), made the announcement at the Canadian Arrhythmia Network (CANet), a new network that will receive $26.3 million over five years to support collaborative research aimed at reducing premature deaths and suffering caused by hearth rhythm disturbances.

CANet's approach will be to put the right tools into the right hands at the right time: tools that will empower Canadians to manage their own health, caregivers to improve patient care, and the healthcare system to provide timely, effective and efficient services. This approach will be used to tackle heart conditions that cause irregular heartbeats, which often lead to potentially fatal cardiac arrests and heart attacks. Cardiac arrest is currently the leading cause of death in Canada, killing 40,000 people annually.

Today's investment is the result of the most recent competition in the Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) program. The competition resulted in four new networks receiving funding and one existing network being renewed for a second five-year term.

NCEs mobilize a critical mass of expertise from across the country, bringing together health, natural and social scientists, and engineers. Partners from industry, government and the not-for-profit sector contribute additional expertise and support.

Quick facts

  • The following networks have been selected as Networks of Centres of Excellence:

    • Aging Gracefully across Environments using Technology to Support Wellness, Engagement, and Long Life AGE-WELL (Toronto, Ontario)
    • Biotherapeutics for Cancer Treatment BioCanRx (Ottawa, Ontario)
    • Canadian Glycomics Network GlycoNet (Edmonton, Alberta)
    • Canadian Arrhythmia Network CANet (London, Ontario)

    • NeuroDevNet (Vancouver, British Columbia)
  • With these new grants, the NCE program currently funds 14 networks.
  • Recently, Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivered on the government's commitment to provide an updated Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy. The Strategy is a vision and a roadmap to strengthen Canada's position as a global leader in scientific research while looking to harness greater Canadian innovations that create jobs, increase prosperity and improve the quality of life of Canadians.
  • The NCE program corresponds to all three pillars of the renewed ST&I Strategy (Knowledge, People and Innovation) by developing highly skilled people, building research knowledge and sharing this expertise with business to improve processes and technologies.


Through our updated Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy, our government is making the necessary investments to push the boundaries of knowledge, create jobs and prosperity, and improve the quality of life of Canadians. The newest additions to the Networks of Centres of Excellence will undertake research into important aspects of biochemistry, cancer, arrhythmia, aging and brain development, leveraging nation-wide talent and resources to tackle social and economic challenges that are important to Canadians.

Ed Holder, Minister of State for Science and Technology

As research leaders in the health and life sciences, Western University and London have been well deserved beneficiaries of our government's record investments in science, technology and innovation. Today's announcement of Canada's newest Network of Centres of Excellence, the Canadian Arrythmia Network, adds to London's momentum in this important area of research that creates jobs and prosperity for Londoners while working toward new breakthroughs in heart research for Canadian families.

Susan Truppe, Member of Parliament for London North

The network approach is a solid, proven way to support the creation of new knowledge and ensure it gets into the hands of those who can put it into practice. The mandates of networks go well beyond focusing major resources on a problem. By bringing together the right partners and strategically developing an integrated research program, they add value that results in real change.

Michel Perron, Vice-President of External Affairs and Business Development, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

This NCE funding will allow the Canadian Arrhythmia Network to create an environment to improve heart rhythm health for Canadians, thereby reducing premature deaths, reducing suffering, and increasing quality of life, while ensuring efficient use of healthcare resources and increasing the growth of Canadian health-related industry. Our network will put the right tools in the right hands at the right time.

Anthony Tang, Scientific Director, CANet

AGE-WELL will use the world-class facilities at Toronto Rehab and Simon Fraser University and a strong research and industry partnership network across the country to establish Canada as a leader in designing and implementing technology that contributes significantly to the well-being of older people.

Alex Mihailidis, Joint Scientific Director, AGE-WELL

AGE-WELL will work closely with end-users - older people and caregivers - industry partners, not-for-profit organizations and the country's top researchers and research institutions, including Simon Fraser University and our friends at Toronto Rehab. We will identify the needs of aging people and develop solutions to help them live more independently and safely at home while reducing the burden on their caregivers.

Andrew Sixsmith, Joint Scientific Director, AGE-WELL

Biologically based cancer therapies hold the potential to be both curative and less toxic than many of our current treatment strategies. That in itself is very exciting. But what is really unique about this funding is it allows Canadian scientists to work together to develop several therapeutic strategies in parallel, and then test these both alone and in combination with each other with the goal of finding the most effective way to help our bodies' own defences fight cancer. In this case, the whole really is greater than sum of its parts.

John Bell, Scientific Director, BioCanRx

The network will build upon the activities of the Alberta Glycomics Centre and the tremendous jurisdictional strength Canada has in this important and rapidly evolving field. GlycoNet will become an international research and translation hub in glycomics, and the network will be a crucial driver for novel solutions to unmet medical needs, including vaccines, drugs and devices.

Todd Lowary, Scientific Director, GlycoNet

It is wonderful to have this affirmation of the importance of NeuroDevNet's work in improving quality of life for children with neurodisabilities and their families. For the one out of six children affected by a condition such as autism, cerebral palsy, or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and those who care for them the future looks brighter. Five years of additional funding will enable NeuroDevNet to move many initiatives from our first years as an NCE to bring about new policies and practices that benefit children with neurodevelopmental disorders. Our partners and stakeholders will be crucial to this exciting process.

Dan Goldowitz, Scientific Director, NeuroDevNet

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Scott French
Director of Communications and Parliamentary Affairs
Office of the Minister of State (Science and Technology)

Martin Leroux
Media and Public Affairs Officer
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council

Photo Gallery

National Announcement with Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology) in London, Ontario

Celebration of BioCanRx with Royal Galipeau, Member of Parliament (Ottawa-Orléans) in Ottawa, Ontario


Announcement of NCE competition results

Since its creation in 1989, the Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) program has successfully brought together the best minds in many disciplines and sectors in efforts to solve major social, economic or health issues for Canadians.

The program supports large-scale, collaborative research networks that harness the creativity and inventiveness of Canadian health, natural, and social scientists and engineers. Funded networks integrate expertise from academia, industry, government and not-for-profit organizations in a shared effort to generate and implement solutions to problems. In 2013-14, partner organizations of the networks added $63.4 million of cash and in kind support to the funding from the NCE. International acclaim has led other countries, including Australia, South Africa and some within the European Union, to incorporate the NCE model into their programs.

The NCE program currently supports 14 research networks.

Today's announcements of the Canadian Arrythmia Network in London and the Biotherapeutics for Cancer Treament network in Ottawa comprise two of four new NCEs being awarded funding as a result of this competition. One existing network was also renewed.

New Networks

Canadian Arrhythmia Network CANet

Headquarters: London, Ontario

The Canadian Arrhythmia Network (CANet) brings together clinicians, engineers, patients, industry and government in an effort to reduce premature deaths and suffering caused by heart rhythm disturbances. CANet's approach will be to put the right tools into the right hands at the right time: tools that will empower people to manage their own health, caregivers to improve patient care, and the healthcare system to provide timely, effective and efficient services to the population. This approach will be used to tackle disturbances such as sudden cardiac death, which is currently the leading cause of death in Canada, killing 40,000 yearly. Through early detection and intervention, the network seeks to transform arrhythmia care practices in Canada. CANet includes collaboration from the following partners:


  • Host Institution: Western University
  • Carleton University
  • Dalhousie University
  • Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta, University of Calgary
  • Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
  • Prairie Vascular Research Network
  • Southlake Regional Health Centre
  • Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Sunnybrook Research Institute
  • Université Laval
  • University of British Columbia
  • University of Manitoba
  • University of Ottawa Heart Institute, University of Ottawa
  • University of Victoria


  • Analytics for Life
  • Baylis Medical Company Inc.
  • Biosense Webster Canada, Johnson & Johnson
  • Biotronik Canada Inc.
  • Boston Scientific Canada
  • Colibri Technologies Inc.
  • IBM Canada Limited
  • Medtronic of Canada Inc.
  • Siemens Canada Limited
  • St. Jude Medical Canada Inc.


  • Alberta Health Services
  • Cardiac Services British Columbia
  • Cardiovascular Health Nova Scotia
  • Manitoba Health, Healthy Living and Seniors
  • Quebec, Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux
  • Saskatchewan, Ministry of Health


  • Canadian Cardiovascular Society
  • Canadian Hearth Rhythm Society
  • Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
  • Mitacs Inc.

Biotherapeutics for Cancer Treatment BioCanRx ($25 million)

Headquarters: Ottawa, Ontario

Biologically-based treatments such as cancer-killing viruses, immune cell therapies and synthetic antibodies are among the most promising cancer treatments to emerge in the past decade. They offer targeted, effective options that help mobilize the body's natural defences, with the added benefit of being less toxic and invasive. BioCanRx will help accelerate the most promising discoveries from the lab through to proof-of-concept, manufacturing and clinical testing. Expected results also include training highly skilled people and steering new Canadian biotherapeutic products towards commercialization. By incorporating patient outreach into the research program, the network will help spread knowledge to end users and receive critical feedback about cancer treatment. With partners positioned throughout the development continuum, BioCanRx seeks to make Canada more competitive in biotherapeutics and reduce the human and financial cost of cancer.

BioCanRx includes the collaboration from the following partners:


  • Host Institution: The Ottawa Hospital / Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
  • McMaster/Fraunhofer Biomedical Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing BEAM
  • University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine


  • Boehringer-Ingelheim
  • Genentech
  • Jennerex [now Sillajen]
  • MarabaCo [now Turnstone]
  • Sanofi-Pasteur
  • SciGenom
  • Takara Bio
  • Versant Ventures


  • Alberta Innovates
  • BC Cancer Agency
  • Genome BC
  • Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research
  • Ontario Institute for Cancer Research


  • Cancer Research Society
  • Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada
  • Cure: Blood Cancer
  • Hair Donation Ottawa
  • Leukemia Lymphoma Society of Canada
  • Lymphoma Canada
  • National Pancreatic Cancer Foundation
  • Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation
  • Ovarian Cancer Society
  • Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation
  • Terry Fox Research Institute