Director’s Message

Interim Director – Dr. Blair Leavitt

The Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics (CMMT) at UBC is a world leader in genetic medicine. Our scientists harness the tools of modern molecular biology to perform cutting edge genetic, epigenetic, and genomic medical research. Our research will impact human health across the entire lifespan, but has a focus on childhood health and development. This multidisciplinary community of researchers and clinicians is dedicated to understanding how changes in genes cause disease and to using this knowledge to develop novel treatments, innovative approaches to prevention, and effective strategies to maintain health. Our mandate is to “seek a future where children and adults live free from diseases caused by genes and their interaction with the environment”.

The CMMT brings together outstanding researchers from many different fields, who work together to establish an environment of excellence in research and training. CMMT scientists collaborate across various disciplines, sharing a sense of commitment and accountability to solve the many questions surrounding human illness. An example of this is the recent advance in antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) gene silencing therapy for Huntington disease that has moved from pre-clinical development at the CMMT (Hayden) to a “first-in-man” clinical trial of intrathecal ASO treatment (Leavitt). One of the keys to our success is our ability to partner with diverse stakeholders.

Partnerships with patients teach us profound lessons into patterns of illness and new approaches to treatment. These include patients who participate in clinical trials and those who have donated tissues and samples so we can unravel the secrets of their diseases. It has been inspiring and humbling to see the courage and sacrifices patients have made so that progress can be made; not only for themselves, but for all those suffering from these illnesses around the world. Researchers at the CMMT also work with industry partners to translate discoveries into new therapies and improvements in the care of patients both in Canada and worldwide. Our researchers have continually contributed to the advancement of biomedical knowledge by publishing our work in leading scientific journals since the Centre was established in 1996.

There is a profound sense of urgency to our work at CMMT. We recognize the need to make continued progress in genetic medicine now – to improve the health of children and families in the future. Together with our partners at the BC Children’s Hospital, the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, and the University of British Columbia, we strive to advance basic and translational research as rapidly as possible. I have a profound sense of optimism that with creativity, dedication, and hard work the CMMT will remain at the forefront of genetic medicine, and that we will continue to develop exciting new treatments and approaches to disease prevention in the coming years.