$1,000,000,000 of health research

In March 2013, the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute took in its billionth dollar since the organization officially started as the research arm of The Ottawa Hospital (in affiliation with uOttawa) back on April 1, 2001.

Billions of dollars are often bandied about in the news, but what does that look like? How much is a billion?

Well, if you took one billion loonies and stacked them, the billionth loonie would be 1,950 km above the earth — more than five times higher than the International Space Station. On the other hand, there are about a billion protein molecules in every cell — an indication of the incredible intricacies our researchers are unravelling every day.

Here is what $1 billion looks like at OHRI.

In 2001, OHRI had 732 researchers and staff, and the combined annual revenues of the merged research institutes stood at $44.4 million. Twelve years later, we have 1,735 researchers and staff working for us, and our total revenues are $106 million (2012–2013).

We have grown!

Annual Revenues

“For the past decade OHRI has been a driving force for research, innovation and commercialization," says Bruce Lazenby, president and CEO of Invest Ottawa. "With more than $1 billion in research and employing more than 1,700 scientists, clinical researchers and staff, they have made an enormous impact on Ottawa’s economy, not to mention their contribution to the health and well-being of all Canadians."

Of the $1 billion we have brought in, nearly $800 million is money from provincial, national and international sources that we have injected into the local economy. This is money that otherwise would likely not have come to Ottawa.

OHRI is a global leader in several fields and one of the key research pillars of our community.

–Bruce Lazenby, president and CEO of Invest Ottawa

OHRI also brings highly skilled knowledge workers to Ottawa. Our research programs have leaders in their fields and draw top scientists. As an institute we have numerous strengths, especially in regenerative medicine, chronic disease, cancer therapeutics and practice-changing research, all of which were recognized as such in a review conducted this year by an international panel of renowned scientists. These strengths, along with our culture for translating discoveries into therapies, means that we are also attracting leading clinicians. They understand that research is the best road to improved care and know that the collaborative research environment at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute fosters excellence in scientific inquiry, as well as in the health care provided to the community at the hospital.

Why Ottawa?

View this video to see why leading clinicians and scientists chose Ottawa as the place where they want to make a difference.

Watch the video

Our scientists, who are all professors at uOttawa, also train the next generation of researchers. Since 2001, we have helped more than 1,000 trainees (postsecondary students and postdoctoral fellows) obtain their credentials. We currently have 475 trainees working with us. They are Ottawa’s future innovators.

As for commercial innovation, OHRI has generated seven spinoff companies. One example is Coley Pharmaceutical Inc., which was acquired by Pfizer and continues to operate a vaccine research-and-development facility in Kanata. In addition, as of March 31, 2013, OHRI was managing 43 patent families (the group of patents filed in separate countries for an invention).

Our research and reputation has other importance for the local business community. "OHRI is a global leader in several fields and one of the key research pillars of our community, which makes it a critical selling attribute when Ottawa wants to attract international business,” says Invest Ottawa's Bruce Lazenby.

But these tangible facts and figures only scratch the surface in any assessment of impact, or the return on investments in health research.

For many people, the impact of health research exists in the realm of finding cures. These are certainly the beacons that motivate many when it comes to funding and donating, not to mention those actually conducting and leading the research. At OHRI we have made significant contributions in moving toward some of those beacons, such as promising therapies using cancer-fighting viruses, biotherapeutics for Duchenne muscular dystrophy and a treatment that uses gene-enhanced stem cells to help the heart repair itself after a heart attack. These three examples, developed from basic scientific discoveries by our scientists, are now in clinical trials or are very nearly at that stage. Each represents a potential breakthrough in how we treat these diseases. And we have others.

Watch the video

Regenerative Medicine Spotlight story

Repairing a Damaged Immune System: Researchers Test World’s First Stem-Cell Therapy for Septic Shock

While we are working on cures, the reality is that many important research advances are incremental. These more modest gains are not the headline grabbers, but add up to the incredible progress and improvements we benefit from in the health care available to us today, from faster and more accurate diagnosis to more effective use of medication. This enhanced quality and effectiveness of care is critical in assessing the impact of research investments.

To that end, our researchers are making substantive contributions, whether it's evidence to support reduced doses of chemotherapy, a clinical trial that compares three common drugs and finds the most expensive to be dangerous, or a comprehensive review of existing evidence that clinicians and policy-makers can turn to with confidence.

Cancer Spotlight story

Rapid Diagnosis, Reduced Anxiety: Innovative Program Offers Fast-Track Results for Women at the Highest Risk of Breast Cancer

Watch the video

Our institute is also an international leader in providing guidance on doing science right. This expertise ensures that trials and studies are designed in a way that will authoritatively answer the right questions, thus ensuring the effectiveness of the significant investments made.

We can certainly quantify some of our achievements, such as the $10 million Canada saves annually because of rules developed here that have drastically reduced the need to order diagnostic images of ankle and knee injuries.

But how can you put a value on lives saved, the quality of lives improved, future innovations and innovators, and the importance of doing science right?

This is priceless!

A Numbers Story


1st clinical
in the world of an engineered stem cell therapy to repair heart muscle after a major cardiac event (opened June 2013)
1st lab in the world to show adult muscle stem cells turn into brown fat, a good form of energy-burning fat tissue (2013). Learn more about Dr. Michael Rudnicki’s lab...
1st iPhone app from OHRI: ImmunizeON helps people track their immunizations (available for free on iTunes 2012)
1st clinical
in the world of a stem cell therapy to treat septic shock, an affliction that accounts for 20% of admissions to intensive care units and kills an estimated 40% of those (to open in 2013)

Regenerative Medicine Spotlight story

Repairing a Damaged Immune System: Researchers Test World’s First Stem-Cell Therapy for Septic Shock

Watch the video
1st lab in the world to demonstrate that a viral therapy delivered intravenously can selectively infect and spread within tumours in humans (2011). Learn more about Dr. John Bell’s lab...
1st lab in the world to confirm the existence of adult stem cells in skeletal muscle (2007). Learn more about Dr. Michael Rudnicki’s lab...
1st lab in the world to report existence of stem cells in adult cardiac muscle (2002). Learn more about Dr. Lynn Megeney’s lab...

Fast Facts

Total revenue generated
by OHRI since April 1, 2001
184 Number of agencies
and companies that funded research at OHRI in 2012–2013
3rd Rank among Canadian research hospitals
for peer-reviewed funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research
6th Rank, in terms of total research revenues,
among all Canadian hospitals (2012, RE$EARCH Infosource)
798 Number of scientific publications
by OHRI researchers in 2012
3% Global impact of our scientific publications,
we rank in the top three percent (2012, SCImago)
21 Number of OHRI scientists
with papers in the top one percent of their field (first or last author)

How we do it

7,097 Number of pieces of lab research equipment
(items that require electrical power)
54 Number of research labs
1 Ottawa Methods Centre,
created to promote and facilitate methodological excellence; home to internationally recognized experts in clinical trial design, data management and statistics
3 Number of GMP laboratories in 2013,
built to produce biotherapeutics for use in human clinical trials
150 Average number of pipette tips
used by a lab researcher in a week
203 Number of Co2 incubators
1,000 Average number of samples placed into our Biorepository
on a weekly basis (a majority from the Ontario Health Study)


Revenue Distribution 2012-2013

Expenditure Distribution 2012-2013

Top 10 sources of peer-reviewed funding 2012-2013

Canadian Institutes of Health Research $21.1M
Ontario Research Fund – Research Excellence $3.3M
Ontario Institute for Cancer Research $1.6M
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario $1.3M
The Ottawa Hospital Academic Medical Organization $1.2M
Terry Fox Foundation $1.1M
Canada Research Chairs Secretariat $1.0M
Ontario Research Fund – Global Leadership $0.9M
Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation $0.8M
Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute $0.7M

Canadian dollars (millions)