IBBME-led “Global Fibrosis Network” receives U of T Connaught Global Challenge Award

Professor Craig Simmons is a lead researcher behind one of five U of T teams to receive a total of $1.23 million from the Connaught Global Challenge Award.

The internal award, funded by the Connaught Fund, is designed to support new collaborations involving leading U of T researchers and students from several disciplines, along with innovators and thought leaders from other sectors. It helps these programs get off the ground and boost efforts to find external funding to further develop solutions to global challenges, as well as possibly create new research-oriented academic programs.

Simmons’ “Global Fibrosis Network” will address fibrotic diseases, a condition that affects multiple organs and can cause severe pain. It affects 2.5 billion people worldwide and costs health-care systems an estimated $200 billion.

World-leading scientists and clinicians at U of T and its affiliated hospitals have made significant strides in fibrosis research. They’ve now joined forces to share their findings to tackle fibrosis together. With the help of the Connaught funding, this local fibrosis network will go global to foster pioneering research and strengthen innovation and training capacity.

Simmons’ team includes fellow U of T scholars who specialize in matrix dynamics, public health economics, diabetes complications, as well as collaborators from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at the University of Oxford, the University of Cincinnati, University of Bergen, Norway, The French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), University of Paris, and major global industrial partners to come.

“It’s wonderful to see so many of our researchers banding together on interdisciplinary teams to tackle some of the world’s most challenging and complicated global problems. The Connaught Global Challenge Award recognizes that only by working together and seeing an issue from many different angles can we truly come up with innovative, ground-breaking solutions,” said Vivek Goel, U of T’s vice-president of research and innovation.

This year’s award collaborators also included multiple prestigious universities, Indigenous community health organizations, global corporations and justice-minded non-profits.

To be considered, global challenge teams must represent new collaborations involving leading U of T researchers and students from multiple disciplines, along with innovators and thought leaders from other sectors.The application deadline for the next round of funding is February 1, 2018.

With files from Jennifer Robinson, U of T Communications