Preventing the next pandemic: U of T’s EPIC consortium

The University of Toronto’s Combined Containment Level 3 (C-CL3) unit, equipped to safely study pathogens that cause infectious disease, was among the first labs in Canada to enable researchers to work with SaRS-CoV-2 samples.

While similar facilities elsewhere had closed after the 2003 SARS outbreak, the U of T lab remained open – supporting a vast research community including academic, hospital and industrial research needs – and was able to make a significant contribution to understanding and addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, the 20-year-old lab is also the heart of the Emerging and Pandemic Infections Consortium (EPIC) – a new U of T Institutional Strategic Initiative (ISI) that will unite top university, hospital and global experts in infectious diseases, as well as other fields.

The goal? Prepare for future pandemics.

Scott Gray-Owen, a professor of molecular genetics in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine and academic director of the C-CL3 facility, is eager to bring together everyone from cancer researchers to policy-makers — along with the next generation of student researchers – to study the lessons of COVID-19.

“As the Emerging and Pandemic Infections Consortium comes together, we want [researchers] to be thinking about infection broadly – from molecular biology to aerosol transmission, to clinical intervention, harnessing immune responses and manufacturing.”

Scott Gray-Owen

EPIC’s hospital partners include the Hospital for Sick Children, Unity Health Toronto, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, University Health Network and the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute at Sinai Health.

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Visit the EPIC website