Dean Betts and Dr. Khan receive OIRM funding

Congratulations to Schulich Medicine & Dentistry researchers Dean Betts, PhD, and Zia Khan, PhD, who recently received New Ideas Grant funding from the Ontario Institute of Regenerative Medicine (OIRM).

Betts received $50,000 in funding for his project entitled “Sole fuel source to enhance pluripotency”. His proposed research will improve the efficiency of generating high-quality human induced pluripotent stem cells by tailoring the fuel source and consequently driving the metabolism of somatic cells towards that found in pluripotent stem cells.

Khan received $49,500 in funding for his project entitled “Mechanisms regulating differentiation in hemangioma stem cells”. His research will identify potential targets for therapeutic vascular modulation in infantile hemangioma. Understanding the molecular intricacies in these cells has far-reaching implications for treating hemangiomas and other blood vessel-dependent diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancers.

“This financial support that the Ontario Government has invested in is important because it not only invests in translational medicine, but also funds basic discoveries in understanding how stem cells work, like my project, that will hopefully lead to future clinical therapies and/or commercial applications,” Betts said. “In today’s research climate where funding for basic research is very limited, receiving this grant support to develop a new fundamental research idea is wonderful.”

Khan agreed with Betts, adding that this funding is especially important because he believes stem cells and regenerative medicine is the future of health care.

“Stem cells have the potential to repair or replace any tissue or deliver drugs, and are already used to treat leukemia, lymphoma and other blood diseases,” Khan explained. “Almost any disease that causes cell damage can be treated with stem cells, and this will be very much achievable in the near future."

In order for Canada to remain at the forefront of this important research, Khan explained this kind of investment and funding support needs to continue.

Click here to learn more about the other New Ideas Grant Projects that the OIRM has funded.