One of Canada's claims to scientific fame is its discovery of stem cells 50 years ago. However, while it has traditionally been at the forefront of stem cell research, the country has recently fallen behind. Leading experts in the field reported on Tuesday that funding is running out.
Canada is quickly being overtaken by other countries, who research institutes receive far more money. Dr. Drew Lyall, the Chair of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation, said that Canada has got the talent, will and expertise to continue leading the world in stem cell research. However, he added: "It's simply not realistic to expect Canada, or indeed anyone else, to keep up to remain globally competitive in the long term without some further dedicated investment in the field".
Mr. Lyall and others testified before the House of Commons Health Committee, comparing Canada's investment to that of the California. The state alone spends far more than Canada-approximately $3 billion in research projects over the next 10 years.
While more financial support is needed, it is also increasingly difficult to secure. "New investigators are having a hard time getting funding, established investigators are losing their funding", said Dr. Michael Rudnicki of the Stem Cell Network. "There's a very essential role for the Federal Government to support research".
The Federal Government invested $41.5 million in stem cell research last fiscal year. In addition to increased funding, experts say the research environment also needs improvement. This includes specialist training, regulatory framework streamlining and harmonizing.