U of T to use portion of new $250 million donation to build medical AI research centre


Following a record-setting $250 million donation to its faculty of medicine, the University of Toronto has revealed plans to build a new centre focused on artificial intelligence (AI) research and education in medicine.

The university said the centre will leverage the school’s strengths in AI and machine learning.

The $250 million, which the University of Toronto claims is the largest gift ever made in Canada, was donated by the Temerty Foundation, which was established by James and Louise Temerty. The overall donation is intended to support several initiatives that advance in machine learning in medicine, biomedical research, innovation, commercialization, and entrepreneurship.

The university said the new AI hub, called Centre for AI Research and Education in Medicine, will capitalize on the school’s strengths in AI, machine learning and deep learning to advance areas including diagnostics, drug discovery, surgery, and patient care.

This is not the first time a major donation made to the University of Toronto has been used for AI research. Last year. In March 2019, the University of Toronto received $100 million from Canadian entrepreneurs Gerald Schwartz and Heather Reisman to help build its innovation centre housing its AI research.

Also in 2019, LG expanded its AI research investment in the University of Toronto to focus on business-to-business applications. Later that year, BMO made a $5 million investment in a new University of Toronto lab focused on AI and the performing arts. The University of Toronto is home to several prominent figures in the AI space, including Geoffrey Hinton, who has been dubbed one of the godfathers of AI.

RELATED: Nuclear medicine startup ARTMS Products raises $26.4 million CAD Series A

Several startups in Canada are using AI to advance the field of medicine. For example, AlayaCare, which raised $47.9 million this year, develops AI-powered solutions for homecare providers. Deep Genomics, which closed a $40 million Series B in January, is currently developing an AI-based drug discovery platform.

Another use of the $250 million donation to the University of Toronto is a dedicated education and research building through the redevelopment of the faculty’s west building on the corner of King’s College Road and King’s College Circle. The new building will be called the James and Louise Temerty Building.

The university said the aim of this building is to create a place where researchers, partners and students can gather to share ideas and consider answers to scientific, health and clinical questions. The space is also hoped to be a hub for public engagement and academic partnerships. Some new features of the building include laboratories equipped with the latest equipment for biomedical research, spaces to initiate collaboration.

Image source Wikimedia Commons.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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