New Brunswick Center for Precision Medicine to Open in 2019
Science is a collaborative field. For every idea that is dreamed up by one mind, there are ten that come to life when people with different research projects, paradigms and backgrounds interact with one another. Incubators and labs that are housed in research centers can be crucial sources of equipment and space, but more importantly, they are places that can bring researchers from across a region together in pursuit of better ideas and innovations. After all, two heads are better than one, right?
We think that the New Brunswick Center for Precision Medicine (NBCPM) can fill that role for the province’s bioscience industry. Created through a partnership between the Atlantic Cancer Research Institute (ACRI) and the Universite de Moncton, the NBCPM is the first purpose-built precision medicine center in Canada. We believe so strongly in its future success that we’ve contributed $250,000 to support the staffing at the heart of the NBCPM, and a further $124,000 toward the purchase of equipment that will be housed at the center.
Precision medicine is an approach to patient care that allows doctors to select a unique treatment path for each patient based on genetic analysis and individual understanding of their disease. Over the past few decades, it’s really been growing in capability. Being able to tailor treatment to the genetic changes in a person’s cancer or chronic disease is a long-standing goal for many companies and researchers in the biomedical and healthcare industries, and the NBCPM will be positioned to build partnerships based on its innovative research into modern precision medicine.
However, the NBCPM can do more than just help nurture provincial expertise in precision medicine. A compelling vision for the center is to be a place where bio-medical startups can come to undertake experimental projects, use advanced screening and analytical equipment, and bounce ideas off each other in a collaborative setting. It’s more than a research center – it’s a bio-incubator, which is something that is sorely needed in this province.
Unless startups have preexisting relationships with universities, they often have difficulty gaining access to a ‘wet lab’ for research into their concept. Wet labs are laboratories where microbes, chemicals, drugs and other biological matter are tested and analyzed using liquid-based methods. This differentiates them from dry labs, where computers or computer-generated models are used to analyze preexisting data.
Wet labs are much more difficult and expensive to safely set up than dry labs, mainly because of the ventilation and piping issues created by the active compounds and liquids present. That’s why the Center for Precision Medicine is so important – startup teams can rent and use space and equipment at the center that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to.
That helps keep New Brunswick-based startups here for the long run and strengthens the province’s innovation ecosystem. If New Brunswick wants to continue building its reputation as a place where life sciences startups can flourish, we need these types of resources here. Great companies attract smart people, and smart people can accomplish things that help make our province even better.
By acting as a hub for the bioscience industry, a generator of important partnerships and intellectual property, and an incubator for fledgling startups, the Center for Precision Medicine can be many things to many people in New Brunswick. We’re proud to support its first steps, and we can’t wait to see where the center goes from here!