Networks of Centres of Excellence of Canada
Government of Canada

Common menu bar links


$25 million for 2018-24
About   |   News

Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC)
Université de Montréal, Montréal, Quebec

President and Chief Executive Officer
Elizabeth Douville Elizabeth Douville

Board Chair
Jean-François Leprince  Jean-François Leprince

Leading the way to next-generation cancer therapies

The opportunity

Cancer remains the number one killer in most industrialized countries, costing Canada $14 billion yearly. 1 in 4 Canadians will die from the disease, and nearly 1 in 2 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. The Canadian health care system faces increasing demand for novel, more targeted and more effective cancer treatment options. Our economy is putting greater emphasis on the emergence of personalized medicine treatments and artificial intelligence to accelerate drug discovery/development (DD). Canada has an opportunity to respond swiftly and deliver new innovative cancer therapies for the future.

How IRICoR is seizing the opportunity

As a not-for-profit organization, founded in 2008 by the Université de Montréal, IRICoR was created to fill a gap in Canada’s innovation landscape by supporting academic research projects in oncology throughout the DD process toward commercialization.

With the business and scientific experience it has accumulated to date, its extensive network of renowned Canadian and international collaborators, and its privileged access to Canada’s premier DD chain expertise and infrastructure at Université de Montréal’s Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer, IRICoR can respond rapidly and effectively to major changes in the life sciences sector. The Centre provides a turnkey solution for academics and small biotechs across Canada and abroad to transform research results into novel therapies. Through partnerships with pharma companies and creation of spin-off companies, IRICoR maximizes the economic impact of each innovative project.

Among the expected results

  • IRICoR has expanded its pan-Canadian activities to accelerate the discovery of more innovative therapies from scientifically excellent academic projects and their transfer to the clinic to the benefit of patients. The Centre has funded more than 100 drug discovery (DD) projects at different stages of development that have led to 30 licensing deals with industry (~$50 million in R&D funding attracted from foreign investors), the start of 8 clinical trials, a contribution in the creation/maintenance of 5 start-ups (2 in clinical stage, 1 revenue generating), and maintenance in Canada of around 150 highly qualified personnel positions. The Centre has also secured co-investment in selected projects with non-profit partners, for example, the Oncopole/Fonds de recherche du Québec - Santé, the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation and Ovarian Cancer Canada. Most recently, the new spin-off companies RejuvenRx (from the parent company ExCellThera) and Epitopea were established.
  • IRICoR's turnkey service adds value to DD projects undertaken in academic settings with a view to conducting clinical trials and creating spin-off companies. The Centre's expertise, which successfully combines business acumen with industry-standard cutting-edge research, also translates into the establishment of licensing agreements. Recently, IRICoR, Ipsen and the Université de Montréal extended their partnership in oncology with the signature of an exclusive licensing agreement and a new collaboration with an option for a licensing agreement for two new oncology programs in the research phase.
  • IRICoR actively contributes to the development of the next generation of scientific entrepreneurs through its collaboration with Montréal InVivo, Université de Montréal’s Faculty of Pharmacy and Concordia University’s John Molson Executive Centre for delivering the Life Sciences Entrepreneurship Development program (close to 90 trainees over 5 years).
  • Projects supported by the Centre not only benefit from financial support but also from access to internal expertise in DD, intellectual property and commercialization support. IRICoR also provides access to the unique expertise at IRIC’s DD Unit and at targeted service providing facilities across Canada.
  • IRICoR’s signature support and access to its network of private and public partners and industry-grade DD infrastructures and expertise are set to continue benefiting a growing pool of Canadian and international DD innovators.

Connect with IRICoR