Networks of Centres of Excellence of Canada
Government of Canada

Common menu bar links

Network legacy: Stem Cell Network - SCN

Funded 2001-2017

This link will take you to another Web site


NCE contributions
$83.3 million

Number of partners

Partner contributions
$80.2 million

University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario

Strengthening Canada's global leadership in stem cell research

Canada’s rise as an international powerhouse in stem cell research 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. This positioned Canada to be among the first beneficiaries of stem cell therapies for cancer, Type 1 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and many other illnesses.

The Stem Cell Network (SCN) combined 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 worked 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 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 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 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 helped establish several organizations, including the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine, the CellCAN Regenerative Medicine and Cell Therapy Network, 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.
  • SCN’s contributions to developing a policy statement and providing expert testimony to Parliament were central to the formation of a national cord blood banking program that launched in 2013.