University of Toronto receives generous $10-million gift from the Temerty Foundation to support urgent COVID-19 priorities

Apr 22, 2020

The gift has helped U of T’s Faculty of Medicine and its partner hospitals respond to the immediate needs of front-line health care and quickly ramp up research and training to advance the worldwide effort to end the pandemic.

Photo: iStock by Getty Images
Photo: iStock by Getty Images

The University of Toronto’s renowned Faculty of Medicine received a $10-million gift from the Temerty Foundation to support Toronto’s hospital and health-science network as it responds to the COVID-19 pandemic. The gift was committed in early April to create the Dean’s COVID-19 Priority Fund and immediately scale up the network’s activities. The Dean’s COVID-19 Priority Fund directly supports front-line clinical faculty members and trainees fighting this pandemic, and researchers at U of T and partner hospitals seeking to improve testing, accelerate vaccine research, and create better treatments and prevention strategies.

Already, this investment has helped expand the infrastructure required to perform critical research and supply urgent clinical resources, and enabled exploration of innovative solutions to maximize the use and reuse of personal protective equipment (PPE). It has established urgently required isolation housing for medical residents and fellows and provided emergency student funds. It has also supported other projects with an impact across the entire Toronto Academic Health Science Network (TAHSN), the unparalleled group of research, teaching and community hospitals and health-care centres anchored by U of T.

“We are deeply grateful to the Temerty Foundation for their outstanding leadership in responding to this unprecedented global crisis,” says President Meric Gertler. “Receiving a gift of this magnitude so early in the crisis has helped us meet the urgent needs of our region’s front-line clinicians and medical trainees, and will continue to provide vital support to researchers in defeating the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Established in 1997 by James and Louise Temerty, the Temerty Foundation has provided significant philanthropic support to health care, education, and culture in Toronto and various other communities.

“Through our gift to the University of Toronto, we want to support a local network of heroes fighting on behalf of all of us, to protect us on a day-to-day basis and to discover a long-term solution that can help us stabilize and recover from this devastating crisis,” says Leah Temerty-Lord, Managing Director, Temerty Foundation. “We hope this will help the patients and caregivers who are experiencing this awful virus and give the talented scientists some of the tools they need to accelerate the most promising research.”

Meeting urgent needs across Toronto’s health-care network

Through the Dean’s COVID-19 Priority Fund, the Temerty Foundation’s gift has been directed to support the following initiatives undertaken this month:

  • Immediate expansion of U of T’s Containment Level 3 (CL3) facility and creation of a COVID-19 Biobank to house virus samples—a national priority. Infectious agents like COVID-19 require highly secure storage environments. U of T is home to one of only two CL3 facilities in Toronto and is the only one available for research. The Foundation’s support is helping the Faculty expand the facility to provide researchers from across the city with 24-7 access to the samples needed to investigate and test COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics and related solutions.
  • Isolation housing for U of T Medicine residents and fellows who are front-line health-care workers rotating through the GTA’s major hospitals. Many of these trainees may be required to isolate as they are tested for, or recover from, COVID-19, while others may need to self-isolate to protect those they live with.
  • Innovative reuse of PPE by employing technologies such as UV light, heat or ozone to potentially disinfect N95 face masks. At U of T, researchers have been testing and implementing protocols that will allow the masks—worn by front-line health-care workers throughout the region’s hospitals—to retain their effectiveness while being thoroughly cleaned. The protocols follow recently released guidelines on the reuse of PPE.
  • The Toronto COVID-19 Action Fund, a parallel fund created and launched by the University of Toronto to make rapid contributions to the fight against the virus. The fund has already committed grants to support 31 hospital and U of T research projects that expand our understanding of the pathogen and have an impact at the vanguard of care. The Temerty Foundation is joining more than 600 other generous donors to support this fund, including critical contributions from the University and 12 of its hospital partners.
  • Additional critical research projects at U of T’s Faculty of Medicine and partner hospitals that are not fully funded by the Toronto COVID-19 Action Fund. These could include solutions such as diagnostics, anti-viral agents, and currently approved drugs that could be potentially repurposed to treat COVID-19.
  • Emergency Assistance Grants for students who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic through loss of income or other unexpected expenses. These grants help students with immediate critical needs such as living costs, helping alleviate this burden while they support the efforts against COVID-19.
  • Urgent professional development for clinicians and trainees who may find themselves navigating unfamiliar areas of health care due to redeployment, such as the ICU or palliative medicine. U of T Medicine is harnessing its world-class education to offer essential clinical resources for health-care providers and trainees across its hospital-partner network.

In addition to these already funded immediate needs, the Dean’s COVID-19 Fund will support other priorities related to the pandemic crisis as they become evident in the coming weeks and months.

“The Temerty Foundation truly understands the powerful impact U of T and our partner hospitals can have when we work together,” says Trevor Young, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Vice Provost, Relations with Health Care Institutions. “We are extremely grateful for their generosity and vision. For the trainees, clinicians and researchers battling this virus every day, this is a huge vote of confidence.”

A gift that will benefit Toronto’s entire health-care system

TAHSN is a consortium of world-class research, teaching and community hospitals with a single medical school—U of T’s Faculty of Medicine—serving as its hub. Pushing the boundaries of knowledge and clinical practice, TAHSN delivers high-quality patient care, drives innovative research, and advances outstanding medical education, contributing 20 per cent of all newly trained Canadian physicians.

The integrated nature of TAHSN means that the Temerty Foundation’s gift will have an impact across the network in all areas of health and health care focused on COVID-19, including clinical practice, training, fundamental science and rehabilitation science.

“The Temerty Foundation’s remarkable gift supports what is vitally needed across TAHSN during this pandemic: a strong combination of front-line support and critical research,” says Gary Newton, President and CEO of Sinai Health System and Chair of TAHSN. “There is no one easy solution, but this investment is a terrific catalyst for the innovation and collaboration we need to address the threats of COVID-19.”

Generosity in a time of unprecedented crisis

Around the globe, philanthropists are giving generously to support their communities and help address the COVID-19 crisis. The Temerty Foundation is helping lead a wider movement of donors who are supporting U of T and its hospital partners during this time of great need.

“We are immensely grateful to the Temerty Foundation for their rapid response during this unprecedented global crisis,” says David Palmer, Vice President, Advancement. “Their generous and timely donation is having an immediate impact on our collective ability to confront this challenge. Toronto is home to some of the world’s brightest minds in biomedical research and clinical-care innovation, and this gift has already helped us to scale up their work quickly. It also ensures we can effectively support the health-care workers at the centre of this global fight.”

About the Temerty Foundation

Founded by James and Louise Temerty in 1997, and managed by their daughter Leah Temerty-Lord, the Temerty Foundation has had health care as one of its primary charitable focuses since its inception. Past activities include establishing the Temerty Centre for Therapeutic Brain Intervention at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, the Louise Temerty Breast Cancer Centre at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, the Temerty Foundation RGNEF Research Fund for neurodegenerative disease at Western University, and the world’s first international telesimulation centre in medical education at the University Health Network.

In addition, the Temerty Foundation and family have supported the Royal Ontario Museum, the Royal Conservatory of Music, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the Canadian Red Cross, The Hospital for Sick Children, North York General Hospital, the Michener Institute, and the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv. They were instrumental in launching the Kyiv Mohyla Business School, and they also founded the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter Initiative, a multinational project that aims to build a sound foundation for future interaction among Ukrainians and Jews.

James C. Temerty, C.M., was the founding Chairman of Northland Power Inc. and continues to serve as a Director of the company. Northland Power is an independent power producing company with a focus on clean and green energy. An entrepreneur with over 40 years of business experience, Jim was appointed a member of the Order of Canada in 2008 and awarded the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2010 for Canada.