Since the Nobel Prize was awarded to Banting and Macleod in 1923 for their discovery of Insulin, Canada has held a place as one of the top countries for pharmaceutical research in the world.
Canadian scientists are still being credited with breakthrough discoveries every year, and there is an explicit need for young talent to enter the industry. It is recognized that historically, young researchers are statistically more likely to conduct breakthrough research. Universities and corporate labs know this, and many commit themselves to finding fresh talent. CIHR, the Canadian Institute of Health Research specifically targets young scientists, offering numerous grants, fellowships, and awards to aspiring health researchers who have recently completed their education. This is particularly good for people fresh out of pharmaceutical courses, a quick way to go from classroom HPLC training to cutting edge jobs.
Fostering young scientists’ works
Across Canada, there have been numerous breakthroughs in the past few years, and while they may not necessarily be the kind of exciting and high-profile breakthroughs that win Nobel Prizes, they are vital discoveries that strengthen medical science and will improve lives around the world. One such breakthrough is in the area of bacteria resistance to antibiotics, the specialty of Robert E.W. Hancock at the University of British Columbia. This area is expected to become increasingly important in the coming decades, as many of our safest and cheapest antibiotics lose their effectiveness. Hancock’s work has increased our understanding of how antibiotics work, knowledge that will help us build better antibiotics in the future. The breakthrough made by Hancock and his team was gaining key insights into how the body fights back against bacterial infection, and how drugs can be used to boost the body’s own immune system without targeting the bacteria directly.
Another important example is that of Dr. Mickie Bhatia and his team at McMaster. They have found that thioridazine, a drug previously used for psychological issues, may destroy cancerous stem cells while leaving regular cells untouched. This breakthrough is notable because cancer stem cells are notoriously difficult to combat, as they are resistant to or unaffected by many forms of treatment such as chemotherapy. As an added bonus, by destroying cancerous stem cells, the chance of cancer reoccurring is diminished. The research is still in the early stages, but it has attracted great international attention.
These examples show that for fledgling researchers like you, Canada has and will continue to have a strong presence in pharmaceutical and clinical research. There are still considerable options for young pharmaceutical researchers and a lot of good work to be done.
What discoveries are you excited about in Canada?