Office of the Vice-Principal (Research)

Office of the Vice-Principal (Research)
Office of the Vice-Principal (Research)

Queen's CardioPulmonary Unit

Queen's CardioPulmonary UnitCardiopulmonary diseases are the leading cause of death in Canada. Queen’s CardioPulmonary Unit (QCPU), led by Dr. Stephen Archer, is a translational research facility focused on the development, preclinical testing and commercialization of new therapies for heart, lung, blood and vascular diseases. Built on existing institutional and government investments, this collaborative effort enhances linkages between basic scientists and clinical investigators with the aim to conduct world-class, transformative research. Canada Foundation for Innovation funds were matched by Ontario Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science to jointly award the QCPU team $7.7M to establish the QCPU facility, a state-of-the-art 8,000-square-foot facility housed within Queenʹs Biosciences Complex at 116 Barrie Street.

The QCPU hopes to introduce a paradigm shift in drug development to one based on a new translational model of research, directed by academia rather than industry. The research program consists of three cores: (i) pre-clinical discovery and experimental therapeutics, (ii) translational research and clinical trials and (iii) population health. As such, an eclectic team of basic scientists, clinical trialists, population health scientists and clinician scholars has been integrated to create a collaborative environment, strengthening linkages between basic and clinical investigators in order to understand the biology so as to develop therapeutics to facilitate translation from bench to bedside.

Patient RoomAt the bench, QCPU harnesses the talents of the multidisciplinary group, led by Dr. Donald Maurice, which itself consists of four nodes including: i) vascular function/disease, ii) cardiac dysfunction, (iii) respiratory disease and (iv) circulatory control. This group of basic researchers works in collaboration with an innovative group of clinician scientists including respirologists, epidemiologists, cardiologists, hematologists and neurologists, translating basic research into novel therapeutic strategies that can be brought to clinical trials. Researchers have access to state-of-the-art equipment through QCPU, some of it newly acquired as a result of CFI/MRI funds, and most of it providing new infrastructure to Queen’s University, facilitating performance of functions such as: CyTOF mass spectroscopy, 2-photon confocal microscopy, cell culture, micro PET_SPECT scanning, genome sequencing, etc. It should be noted that very few facilities, even at the national and international levels, bring this type of high calibre equipment to a central location. QCPU offers access to this equipment to our research collaborators using a cost-recovery model. The new research infrastructure QCPU brings to Queen’s also brings opportunity for QCPU scientists, trainees and Queen’s collaborators to be trained on the use of state-of-the-art equipment. It should be noted that QCPU has space for 12 postdoctoral fellows. It is foreseen that regular meetings, comprising members and their trainees, will facilitate the sharing of share research findings across multidisciplinary research groups.    

QCPU takes a populational perspective, collaborating with ICES (Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences) Queen’s to assess disease epidemiology as well as with the Pulmonary Vascular Research Institute (PVRI) to take into account physicians’ practice patterns. QCPU is outward looking with partnerships that allow national and international collaborations. It is currently supported by a network of clinics in three countries, including sites in Ottawa, Edmonton, Chicago, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, Sao Paulo, and Kingston, thus taking advantage of the highest calibre of expertise available regarding disease, and allowing for a more comprehensive strategy for translational research.

Biosciences ComplexThe QCPU facility launched on October 6, 2017 and, now established in full force, is attractive in recruiting physicians and scientists to Canada, as well as in providing a rich research environment to nurture research trainees at all levels. This research hub, in conjunction with its partners, will facilitate a comprehensive understanding of pulmonary and vascular research, from molecules up to populations, which will help identify new therapeutic targets to develop and test new therapeutic strategies for PAH and right heart failure. The multidisciplinary and collaborative nature of the QCPU, integrating basic research with clinic trials and access to populations of patients, in addition to its partnerships to facilitate epidemiological studies and commercialization will allow for optimization of both health and economic impact. As such, it is hoped that the QCPU will help to improve the quality of life and life expectancy of patients with this devastating disease that, through the strength of its international partnerships will allow its impact to be felt on a global level.

Funded by CFI - Innovation Fund & Matched by OMRIS