Media Releases

U of T Mississauga launches Centre for Medicinal Chemistry

September 19, 2016

Toron­to, ON – The Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to Mis­sis­sauga has launched an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary cen­tre for the devel­op­ment of new drugs tar­get­ing can­cer and oth­er dis­eases, thanks to a $7 mil­lion dona­tion from Mis­sis­sauga-based Orlan­do Cor­po­ra­tion.

The lab­o­ra­to­ry of Pro­fes­sor Patrick Gun­ning of UTM’s Depart­ment of Chem­i­cal & Phys­i­cal Sci­ences is the cat­a­lyst for the cre­ation of the Cen­tre for Med­i­c­i­nal Chem­istry. Gunning’s research team designs lead com­pounds that have the poten­tial to be turned into can­cer-fight­ing drugs. The core team of the cen­tre will include Gun­ning and four new prin­ci­pal inves­ti­ga­tors who will part­ner in med­i­c­i­nal chem­istry, com­pu­ta­tion­al chem­istry, can­cer biol­o­gy and stem cell biol­o­gy. The centre’s focus will be to cre­ate com­pounds that are pur­pose-built to inter­rupt spe­cif­ic bio­chem­i­cal process­es while avoid­ing harm to nor­mal cel­lu­lar func­tions.

“On behalf of the entire U of T com­mu­ni­ty, I would like to thank Orlan­do Cor­po­ra­tion for this extra­or­di­nary gift,” says Mer­ic Gertler, pres­i­dent of U of T. “It will add more new tal­ent to the bril­liant team led by Pro­fes­sor Gun­ning, pro­pelling them towards break­through inno­va­tions with the poten­tial to save count­less lives.”

In an ear­li­er announce­ment, Gunning’s research team received $5.9 mil­lion from the Cana­da Foun­da­tion for Inno­va­tion and the Ontario Research Fund.

“The Cen­tre for Med­i­c­i­nal Chem­istry will play a trans­for­ma­tive role on this cam­pus and well beyond our bor­ders,” says Pro­fes­sor Ulrich Krull, inter­im vice-pres­i­dent and prin­ci­pal of U of T Mis­sis­sauga. “It will become a research hub of lead­ing Cana­di­an sci­en­tists ded­i­cat­ed to devel­op­ing inno­v­a­tive approach­es in the fight against can­cer and oth­er dis­eases. And it will posi­tion UTM as a key play­er in the life sci­ences sec­tor on an inter­na­tion­al scale.”

“The research being con­duct­ed by Patrick and the Gun­ning Group has been tru­ly ground­break­ing over the past few years,” says Pro­fes­sor Vivek Goel, U of T’s vice-pres­i­dent, research and inno­va­tion. “The cre­ation of this cen­tre is the log­i­cal next step that will help to bring can­cer drugs to patients more quick­ly and effi­cient­ly.”

In just the past five years, the Gun­ning team has moved four lead com­pounds to advanced pre-clin­i­cal tri­als. The great promise of this research is to dra­mat­i­cal­ly reduce the time and cost of devel­op­ing lead com­pounds, result­ing in a much larg­er pipeline of mol­e­cules to fight many forms of can­cer as well as oth­er dis­eases.

“I am pro­found­ly grate­ful to Orlan­do Cor­po­ra­tion for this incred­i­bly gen­er­ous invest­ment,” Gun­ning says. “Through this gift, we have a unique oppor­tu­ni­ty to dra­mat­i­cal­ly scale the work that has already tak­en place in our efforts to devel­op life-sav­ing drugs, and in doing so, also train a cohort of high­ly-skilled tal­ent in the life sci­ences.”

“UTM injects over $1.3 bil­lion annu­al­ly into Peel region, with the bulk of the share going to Mis­sis­sauga,” May­or Bon­nie Crom­bie of Mis­sis­sauga says. “UTM’s rapid growth is proof that Mis­sis­sauga Council’s unprece­dent­ed 10-year-$10-million grant to build the Inno­va­tion Com­plex is work­ing. With plans for the Cen­tre for Med­i­c­i­nal Chem­istry, this cam­pus con­tin­ues to assert its own iden­ti­ty and rep­u­ta­tion for research excel­lence.”

“Orlan­do Cor­po­ra­tion has had a long his­to­ry of sup­port­ing health­care in the Greater Toron­to area and specif­i­cal­ly Mis­sis­sauga,” says Phil King, Orlando’s pres­i­dent. “We are delight­ed to con­tribute to the estab­lish­ment of the Cen­tre for Med­i­c­i­nal Chem­istry. The impres­sive record of the Gun­ning lab in ear­ly research tri­als promis­es great things for the future of can­cer research. We are pleased to sup­port a cen­tre that will have such a sig­nif­i­cant impact on the health of so many peo­ple around the world.”

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For more infor­ma­tion:

Jane Stir­ling
Mar­ket­ing and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to Mis­sis­sauga

Nicolle Wahl
Mar­ket­ing and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to Mis­sis­sauga