A Heart Research Center Grows in Canada

He was the fifth-richest person in Canada, and during his life, he gave generously to support the University of Toronto’s Engineering and Applied Sciences departments, and Ryerson University’s School of Business. But Ted Rogers passed away in 2008 at age 75 due to congestive heart failure, and now, the Rogers family has contributed C$130 million to found the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research.

It’s the biggest monetary gift ever made to a Canadian healthcare initiative. It has a lofty but quantifiable goal—reducing hospitalization for heart failure by 50 percent over the next decade—and the family has partners. The Hospital for Sick Children, the University Health Network, and the University of Toronto are all cooperating to bring the center to life. "The Toronto region is home to one of the world's largest biomedical science and health education clusters," said University of Toronto President Meric Gertler. "This exceptionally powerful network of researchers and educators is translating exciting ideas, innovations and therapies in stem cell research and regenerative medicine into clinical settings where they will address the most challenging problems across the spectrum of heart disease."

To accomplish the goal, the Ted Rogers center will bring together over 30 experts and researchers from all across the parter organizations supporing the initiative. Up to 80 graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and clinical fellows will also be included. It’s a critical mass of expertise they’re shooting for, hoping the center will become a magnet to attract the best and brightest among the world’s top cardiac clinicians and researchers.

Each of the three partners will contribute in a specific way:

  • The Hospital for Sick Children will focus on using genomic science to unravel the genetic foundations of cardiac disease.
  • The University Health Network will combine data, biomarkers, and individualized treatment approaches to translate cutting-edge research into patient care.
  • The University of Toronto will harness the power stem cell therapy to work on regenerating heart muscle, so that damaged hearts can be restored.

“Today, one million Canadians are living with heart failure, and that number is projected to increase 25 per cent over the next 20 years,” said Dr. Barry Rubin, chair and program medical director of the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre and a professor of surgery at U of T. “This unprecedented gift will enable research teams in the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research to develop new therapies that will dramatically improve the lives of patients with heart disease.”