Canadian Pandemic Preparedness Hub receives more than $115M to boost Canada’s capacity for home-grown vaccines and biotherapeutics

The Canadian Pandemic Preparedness Hub (CP2H) has been awarded more than $115 million to boost Canada’s capacity to develop and manufacture life-saving biotherapeutics, including vaccines, gene therapies and cell therapies. CP2H is co-led by the University of Ottawa and McMaster University, in partnership with The Ottawa Hospital.

Photo credit: The Ottawa Hospital

The funding, announced today by the Government of Canadanorth_eastexternal link, comes from the integrated Canada Biomedical Research Fund (CBRF) and the Biosciences Research Infrastructure Fund (BRIF), which were established to support a range of pandemic preparedness activities across the country, as well as the Infrastructure Operating Fund (IOF) of the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

“The COVID-19 pandemic showed us all why pandemic readiness is so important,” says Matthew Miller, scientific co-lead of CP2H and executive director of McMaster’s Global Nexus. “This new funding will ensure that we have the platforms in place — right here in Canada — to enable the development of novel therapeutics, vaccines, and technologies that will allow us to more effectively prevent and respond to future infectious disease threats.”

The grant will help modernize and future-proof biomanufacturing facilities based at McMasternorth_eastexternal link and The Ottawa Hospitalnorth_eastexternal link (TOH), including construction of a new biomanufacturing facility at TOH’s new campus. The grant will also establish a new satellite hub facility at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.

“These facilities will be able to manufacture a wide range of biological products suitable for use in clinical trials, including vaccines, antibodies, and cell-based therapies,” says Professor Duncan Stewart, principal investigator for the combined infrastructure project and executive vice-president of research at TOH.

The new funding will also bring state-of-the-art equipment to the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) at the University of Saskatchewan, which will help optimize CP2H biomanufacturing initiatives by intensifying the rate at which new treatments and technologies can be commercialized.

With the funds, CP2H will also establish integrated research programming at six academic and government biomanufacturing facilities across Canada to increase biomanufacturing capacity nationwide and to provide standardized, high-quality training to the next generation of researchers in Canada.

“Together, we will develop life-saving solutions to emerging and ongoing public health challenges while providing critical infrastructure for the growing biotherapeutics industry,” says John Bell, scientific co-lead of CP2H, senior scientist at TOH and professor of medicine at the University of Ottawa.  

CP2H is one of five CBRF/BRIF-funded research hubs in Canada, which, together are the centerpiece of a national program designed to scale up the country’s domestic biomanufacturing capacity.

Sylvain Charbonneau, who is vice-president, research and innovation at the University of Ottawa, and Andy Knights, who is acting vice-president, research at McMaster, agree that the shared hub will allow their respective institutions to meaningfully support Canada’s broader life sciences strategy.

“The new funding will allow the University of Ottawa and its partners to stand at the forefront of Canada’s push to protect against future pandemics and outbreaks,” says Charbonneau. “Our objective is to grow a strong and competitive biomanufacturing sector and make Canada a global leader in emerging vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics.”

“Through CP2H, McMaster will bolster its strong innovation ecosystem and ensure that our life sciences research is directly translated to new health products that protect Canadians and those living in Canada,” Knights says. 

The Government of Canada first announced that uOttawa and McMaster were successful in their bid to co-lead CP2H in 2023north_eastexternal link, at which time the hub received an initial $2 million in operating funds.

Additional quotes

“Thanks to this support, research teams at Dalhousie University can accelerate the development of vaccines and novel immunological and cancer therapies, enhancing care outcomes and amplifying the impact of their research. With the support to the CP2H through BRIF and CBRF funding, there is great potential to further expand our research activities and continue to cultivate the next generation of highly skilled professionals dedicated to advancing health care and scientific excellence.”

— Dr. David Anderson, dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University

“This partnership will help support the rapid development of biotherapeutics and strengthen Canada’s biomanufacturing pipeline to ensure we are prepared for the next pandemic.”
– Volker Gerdts, VIDO director and CEO