February 06, 2012



$30M gift to fast forward health care research, education and care at McMaster University

Boris family gift propels stem cell therapies and one-stop patient care


Hamilton, Ont. February 06, 2012A Hamilton family is giving McMaster University $30 million to accelerate the university’s innovations in health research, education and care.


“McMaster University has proven its ability to fast forward discoveries from the lab bench to the patients’ bedside, it made perfect sense to make this investment in this world class university,” said Les Boris, on behalf of his parents’ Marta and Owen Boris Foundation. His sister Jackie Work added: “The Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine is ranked among the top 20 medical schools in the world. This is the best place to commit to the future.”


The funding was announced in a ceremony at the University today.


Of the total, $24 million is designated to establish The Boris Family Centre in Human Stem Cell Therapies, which will speed the commercial development of discoveries at the McMaster Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute. The six-year-old institute has had several major breakthroughs, including the ability to turn human skin into blood.


The funds will establish two senior research chairs, one in blood stem cells and the other in neural stem cells; set up several fellowships and technician positions; build the facility and provide a fund for emerging opportunities.


An additional $6 million is for a unique clinic which will allow patients with complex health problems to see several specialists and have related tests during one visit. Established in partnership with Hamilton Health Sciences, this patient-oriented clinic will be built in the McMaster University Medical Centre in Hamilton and led by a senior research chair.


The Marta and Owen Boris Foundation was established by Marta and Owen Boris who created the Hamilton cable company Mountain Cablevision and developed it over 50 years before selling it to Shaw Communications in 2009. Owen Boris died in April, 2011.


“McMaster has been renewing its commitment to our community, and to have community members make such a significant contribution to the University is truly outstanding,” said Patrick Deane, president of McMaster. “Great research, great discoveries, and better patient care.  The Boris family gift will accelerate our ability to make great things happen.”


Dr. John Kelton, dean and vice-president of the Faculty of Health Sciences, added: “This is an innovative and action oriented family. They understand the great potential McMaster has to make medical breakthroughs, and their willingness to place their bets on McMaster is a tremendous vote of confidence in us.”


Mick Bhatia is scientific director of the McMaster Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute. He said: “In a short time we’ve become world renowned for our human stem cell discoveries. Now is the time to move these discoveries to the patient.”


About the clinic for day patients, Dr. Akbar Panju, professor and deputy chair clinical of the Department of Medicine, said the new format is unique in Canada and will put patients first.


“Too often patients go from office to office to receive essential medical care from several specialists.  This clinic will ensure they will get everything they need in one place,” he said, noting that the clinic will also be a centre of learning for health sciences students and residents from many disciplines.


McMaster University, one of four Canadian universities listed among the Top 100 universities in the world, is renowned for its innovation in both learning and discovery. It has a student population of 23,000, and more than 150,000 alumni in 128 countries.




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For more information, please contact:



Michelle Donovan

Public Relations Manager

McMaster University

905-525-9140, ext. 22869



Veronica McGuire

Media Relations

Faculty of Health Sciences

McMaster University

905-525-9140, ext. 22169