McMaster Receives $30M, Plans to Accelerate Stem Cell Research

February 8, 2012 Updated: February 8, 2012

Health research at McMaster University has received a boost with a $30 million donation from a Hamilton family. The university plans to use the funds for stem cell research and the establishment of a medical clinic.

The funding was announced in a ceremony this week with siblings Les Boris and Jackie Work who gave the donation on behalf of the Marta and Owen Boris Foundation, established by their parents.

McMaster will use most of the funding to create the Boris Family Centre in Human Stem Cell Therapies, which will focus on the commercial development of discoveries at the McMaster Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute.

Besides building the required facility, the funding will be used to establish two senior research chair positions in blood stem cells and neuro stem cells along with several fellowships and technician positions as part of the expansion.

The university’s stem cell research centre was established six years ago with a focus on researching cellular and molecular origins that initiate cancer. One of the more remarkable developments by the centre was the 2010 discovery of how to make human blood from human skin.

A smaller portion of the funding will be used to build a clinic in the university’s Medical Centre in Hamilton where patients can see several specialists and undergo tests all in one visit.

“Too often patients go from office to office to receive essential medical care from several specialists. This clinic will ensure they will get everything they need in one place,” Dr. Akbar Panju, a professor in McMaster’s department of medicine, said in a statement.

The Marta and Owen Boris Foundation was created by Hamilton couple Marta and Owen Boris. Boris was the founder of cable company Mountain Cablevision which he sold to Shaw Communications in 2009.

“McMaster University has proven its ability to fast forward discoveries from the lab bench to the patients’ bedside, it made perfect sense to make this investment in this world class university,” said Les Boris at the ceremony announcing the donation.