Assistant Professor Keith Pardee Receives a CIHR Foundation Grant

Assistant Professor Keith Pardee has received a 5-year Foundation grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research for his work on “Low Cost and Distributed Health Care Applications Based on Cell-free Systems”.

Pardee’s team has recently developed two exciting new technologies for applications in healthcare. The first was a portable and low cost system for detecting the Zika virus (<$1 per test) and the second was the manufacture of protein therapeutics outside of the laboratory in a system that, much like instant noodles, just requires water to be added. With the Foundation grant, Pardee’s team proposes to extend their demonstrated and upcoming technologies to pioneer a new generation of distributed and low-cost health care applications.

These efforts are organized into three objectives:

1) Portable diagnostics: With the development of portable tests for unmet clinical needs, his team aims to demonstrate how their technology can reduce the cost of molecular testing, respond to public health emergencies, and improve patient access to clinical-grade diagnostics through point-of-care tools.

2) Therapeutic manufacturing: Pardee’s team will demonstrate the potential for distributed cell-free manufacturing of multicomponent vaccines for national emergency preparedness.

3) Global health applications: The portability and low-cost of these technologies lend themselves to applications in remote and low resource environments. Pardee’s team will build diagnostics and therapeutics that extend advanced clinical capabilities to the global health setting.

Together these disease-specific applications will extend proof-of-concept work and technology development to meet real world needs at home and abroad. These applications were chosen to serve unmet needs and thus will develop new research capacity in Canada and ultimately have the potential to improve care. It is with great anticipation that the team’s lab begins to translate these technologies here in Canada, where they can help shape and contribute to the health research community, its trainees and research translation.