A $3-million innovation grant fund at the research institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) is hoping to provide scientists with the financial support they need to conduct groundbreaking experiments and develop prototypes of their inventions.
“The research environment is extraordinarily competitive. It’s very difficult to retain research funding,” said Dr. Claire Trottier, who sits on the board of the Trottier Family Foundation.
Her family foundation donated $2 million to encourage scientists to “really test bold ideas that would really have a revolutionary impact.”
“There’s a challenge to support things that are a little bit more risky, but if they are actually successful, [they] would have a huge impact,” she added.
The grant is part of an $11-million investment dedicated to cutting-edge research, created by the MUHC Foundation and supported by the Trottier Family Foundation and the R. Howard Webster Foundation.
“The foundation is really looking to support innovation and better patient care in ensuring that we attract some of the best doctors and research people in the world,” said Norman Steinberg, chair of the board at the MUHC Foundation.
The fundraising campaign goal was $10 million but exceeded expectations by $1 million.
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It was created to honour the accomplishments of Drs. Sylvia and Richard Cruess.
According to the foundation, the two physicians’ “more than 60-year careers at the MUHC have made invaluable contributions to shaping health care in this province.”
“Where the government can’t fund the smaller, innovative projects, as foundations that’s where it’s our place, and maybe our responsibility, to come in and do that,” explained Lucy Riddell, vice-chair of the R. Howard Webster Foundation.
Each year, $100,000 will be awarded to the most innovative project to come out of the MUHC’s research institute — the most important hospital research facility in Quebec, and often one of the top three in the country, attracting doctors and researchers from around the world.
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“It’s peer-based,” Riddell said.
“So, it’s the peers who are going to be deciding who is the recipient of the prize … it’s not the likes of us that are going to decide who’s going to get it, it’s the people who really know at a very profound level who should be winning these awards. Being there, seeing what they’re doing, it’s really incredible.”
The Webster family first got involved with the hospital about 100 years ago.
“Through that period of time, they have basically funded so many of the important, innovative projects we’ve had,” Steinberg explained.
“The families are the leaders because they really understand what our aspirations are.”
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