Government & Policy
Ottawa invests $49 million in cancer AI
June 12, 2019
MONTREAL – Navdeep Bains (pictured), Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, has announced an investment of up to $49 million in the Digital Health and Discovery Platform (DHDP), a network of partners that seeks to establish a cutting-edge Canada-wide health data platform.
Through this new platform, researchers and doctors will work to accelerate the development of new and personalized treatments to help find cures for diseases that affect Canadians. While the platform will initially focus on cancer, the plan is to expand to other areas of medicine in future.
“This investment promises not only to improve the future of Canadians’ health but also to do it with made-in-Canada solutions,” said Bains. “By harnessing Canada’s strengths in health research and AI, we’re helping to usher in a new era of more personalized care that will mean better health outcomes. We’re excited to see all the new health and biosciences innovations that will result from this collaboration.”
Led by the Terry Fox Research Institute and Imagia, the network will connect almost 100 partners across Canada, including healthcare institutions; small, medium-sized and large companies; universities and research foundations; and all four major artificial intelligence (AI) research labs in Canada.
Together, they will establish a Canada-wide AI platform that will connect to different sources of health data to accelerate research. For example, cancer centres and research hospitals will be able to quickly share data to test theories about how to best treat aggressive cancers and develop better treatments for each patient.
“The time to harness the power of AI is now, so that we continue to augment Canada’s position on the global AI stage,” said Dr. Alexandre Le Bouthillier, founder, Imagia. “By combining the experience of its clinical collaborators, industry, AI institute partners and the Terry Fox Research Institute, Imagia will fulfill its mission to make accessible personalized healthcare a clinical reality.”
The Digital Health and Discovery Platform project, estimated at $159 million, will also help to create and maintain highly skilled jobs and provide training opportunities across Canada. It will lead to the creation of innovative new start-ups and support the growth of small and medium-sized businesses.
The Government of Canada believes that trust is the foundation for economic growth and innovation. The platform will be patient-centric and will ensure the consent of participating patients and the largest health institutions and uphold the highest standards for data privacy, security and safety.
“We thank the Honourable Minister Bains and the Government of Canada for their vote of confidence in this pan-Canadian, multi-partner collaborative partnership that brings together the nation’s best minds in precision medicine and artificial intelligence,” said Dr. Victor Ling, president and scientific director, Terry Fox Research Institute.
“The new Digital Health and Discovery Platform will help us to transform cancer research and care in Canada by enabling the new Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres network to analyze enormous amounts of genomic and clinical data to find new and better ways to treat cancer patients no matter where they live in Canada.”
DHDP is expected to begin with an initial composition of 95 partners across nine provinces, including 31 health care institutions, 19 companies, 7 universities, 22 research foundations, granting agencies and non-government organizations, as well as all four major Canadian AI research labs.
DHDP is one of two winning projects selected for funding after a rigorous competition under the Strategic Innovation Fund, first announced on June 28, 2018.