McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Mick Bhatia named as Canada Research Chair

Published: December 8 , 2006
Mick Bhatia-CRC
Mick Bhatia has been named Canada Research Chair in Human Stem Cell Biology.

The Faculty of Health Sciences has gained a new Canada Research Chair with the announcement of Mick Bhatia as the Chair in Human Stem Cell Biology.

Bhatia joined McMaster University a year ago as the scientific director for the new McMaster Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute. He is also a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences.

The chair is one of two new Tier 1 chairs for McMaster announced this week by the Canada Research Chairs (CRC) program. McMaster now has 63 CRCs. Tier 1 chairs are described as outstanding researchers acknowledged by their peers as world leaders in their fields. For each Tier 1 chair, the University receives $200,000 annually for seven years.

Max Wong, a professor and chair of the Department of Electrical & Computer engineering, was named Canada Research Chair in Signal Processing.

Bhatia’s research focuses on the mystery of how and why cancer begins. His study of human embryonic stem cells will be applied to understanding and treating cancer.

Two of every five Canadians will develop some form of cancer in his or her lifetime. More than 150,000 Canadians are diagnosed every year with cancer. Over the next 20 years, the trend toward a growing and aging population could mean a 60 per cent increase in the number of new cancer cases.

Bhatia has made several important advancements in human stem cell research, particularly with blood stem cells. His understanding of their molecular nature and the cell regulatory mechanisms will be used both to understand why stem cells mutate and then, how stem cells can be used as a tool kit to repair the damage done by cancer.

By understanding the sequence of events that caused the development of the cancerous tumour, Bhatia’s approach to human embryonic stem cell research will lead to much smarter cancer therapeutic agents. These therapies have the potential to change the face of cancer care and hold great promise for enhancing the quality of life for the thousands of Canadians who will be diagnosed with cancer.

Mamdouh Shoukri, vice-president, research and international affairs for McMaster, welcomed the announcement of the two CRCs as a significant addition to McMaster's roster allocation of 70 research chairs.

"The science and technology of the future are embodied by the research that is done by Professors Wong and Bhatia," said Shoukri. "Their chair appointments recognize the potential of the next generation of wireless communication and the promise of stem cell research. This program allows us to retain stellar researchers at the leading edge of discoveries that will have a lasting impact on the lives of all Canadians."

The 121 Canada Research Chairs announced yesterday represent a $91.5-million investment by the federal government and includes $12.1 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) to fund essential research infrastructure.

Bhatia was also one of 76 chairs awarded CFI funding, garnering $388,395 to support his project titled Infrastructure to Quantitatively Analyze and Prospectively Isolate Human Stem Cell Populations.

"The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of investing in university research," said the Honourable Maxime Bernier, Minister of Industry and minister responsible for the Canada Research Chairs Program. "This investment will enable our universities to develop the expertise and innovative ideas that fuel economic competitiveness and create new jobs for Canadians."

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