Feb. 1, 2022

Province of Alberta makes multimillion-dollar investment to accelerate research innovation

Universities of Calgary and Alberta to co-ordinate efforts in health-care diagnostics
The government of Alberta announced Monday it is contributing $3 million to enhance diagnostic research and innovation in the province. Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

The Government of Alberta announced new investment into diagnostic research through Alberta Innovates on Monday.

The Alberta Diagnostics Ecosystem Platform for Translation (ADEPT), as the project is known, will establish three laboratories where researchers can collaborate with licensed and accredited medical and scientific staff to test new diagnostic technologies. The new funding comes from Alberta Innovates’ Health Innovation Platform Partnerships (HIPP) program.

Researchers at the Universities of Calgary and Alberta will work together with those at Alberta Precision Labs (APL) and DynaLIFE to create a province-wide diagnostics platform for medical research, including samples, data, infrastructure, equipment and expertise. The government is contributing $3 million over three years to the project and a total of $6 million for additional projects to develop and accelerate new health innovations and technologies.

“This investment is another boost for technology and innovation in Alberta’s health and life sciences sector. A strong ecosystem is key to attracting investment and growing the talent Alberta needs to fuel opportunities in this industry,” says Doug Schweitzer, minister of jobs, economy and innovation.

“This investment will help entrepreneurs develop and commercialize new solutions and technologies to improve patient care and outcomes — all while creating jobs right here in Alberta. Each of these three platform partnerships will help transform ideas into solutions and businesses that will benefit Albertans, Canadians and partners around the world.”

“Alberta’s robust and dynamic innovation ecosystem empowers UCalgary researchers to develop bold new solutions to our society’s complex challenges. This support will enable our researchers to continue their pursuit of improved health outcomes for Albertans, with the potential to have a positive impact on a global scale,” says Dr. William Ghali, UCalgary’s vice-president (research).

Laura Kilcrease, Alberta Innovates’ CEO, credits this unique program saying, “Creating safe spaces, like the ADEPT program — to rapidly test, validate and de-risk innovations is what Alberta Innovates is all about. Our investment in this unique partnership will allow entrepreneurs to bring their good ideas to market faster. That’s not only good for the economy but also for the health of all Albertans.”

The project is co-led by Drs. Ian Lewis, PhD, a UCalgary associate professor in the Faculty of Science, Dr. Dylan Pillai, MD, PhD, a UCalgary professor in the Cumming School of Medicine and medical director, South Sector, APL, and Dr. Michael Mengel, MD, a UAlberta professor in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry and medical director, North Sector, APL.

Ian Lewis (left) and Dylan Pillai

Ian Lewis, left, and Dylan Pillai.

The work will take place in facilities run by APL and DynaLIFE medical labs in Calgary and Edmonton. Alberta Health Services and Alberta Precision Exchange are also key partners in the project.

More: Turning health innovations into reality

Dylan Pillai is the academic head of the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and a professor in the departments of Medicine, and Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases and member of the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases and the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute at the Cumming School of Medicine. He is also medical director, South Sector, at Alberta Precision Laboratories.

Ian Lewis is Alberta Innovates Translational Health Chair and associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Science. Lewis is also the founder of the Alberta Precision Exchange (APEX), an Alberta-wide program that connects innovators with the health care and industry resources needed to bring new diagnostic technologies to market.