University of Manitoba receives ‘groundbreaking’ funding for vaccine, biomanufacturing research

The University of Manitoba, in partnership with the universities of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Calgary, is receiving a combined $57 million to conduct vaccine and biomanufacturing research, as well as for the construction of two research facilities in Winnipeg.

The funding was provided by the government of Canada and includes investments from the Canada Biomedical Research Fund and Canada Foundation for Innovation’s Biosciences Research Infrastructure Fund.

Associate vice-president of research Annemieke Farenhorst said the funding will enable future research that will benefit not only Manitobans but also Canadians from coast to coast.

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“This groundbreaking investment will strengthen our ability to provide solutions to society’s most pressing challenges through research and get ahead of future pandemic threats,” Farenhorst said. “It will empower our research community to develop next-generation vaccines and enhance biomanufacturing solutions – from fundamental research to preclinical testing – to accelerate innovation that will benefit Manitobans and Canadians.”

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Of the $57 million, $29 million will go toward the construction of two research facilities. The Prairie Biologics Accelerator, a 21,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art biosecure facility, located on the Fort Garry campus, will increase laboratory capacity for pre-clinical vaccine testing for high-risk pathogens under safe and secure conditions.

The second facility will be located at the Bannatyne Campus. The Prairie One Health Emerging Respiratory Disease Centre will provide “Containment Level 3” agriculture lab space, which is not currently available in Manitoba.

These labs will help Manitoba researchers and their private sector partners collaborate to develop next-generation vaccines by incorporating artificial intelligence and machine learning to create predictive models for drug development and biomanufacturing at scale.

“The investment aligns with UM’s strategic priority to advance research capacity in the life sciences and biomanufacturing sectors, as well as its history as a globally recognized research leader in pandemic preparedness,” the university said in a release.

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