Since our founding in 1827, the University of Toronto has built a reputation for research excellence that, today, ranks U of T 17th in the world (Times Higher Education rankings, 2010) and has resulted in 10 Nobel Laureates.
U of T's ability to create new knowledge from curiosity-driven research has brought our scientists and scholars global renown.
What is not as well-known, however, is U of T's extraordinary track record in applied research — using the knowledge created in basic research to solve problems. U of T's Banting, Best, Macleod and Collip, for example, won the Nobel Prize for their discovery of insulin, one of the greatest landmarks in basic research in history.
But it took a great deal of further research to turn insulin into a product that could be used by people who have diabetes. Working with a variety of partner organizations over the past 88 years, scientists the world over have refined the use and manufacture of insulin to the point where we have such tremendous innovations as the insulin pump today.
It is in this area of applied research that partnerships take on an extremely valuable role.
In addition to the creation of new knowledge, universities play a vital role in helping global society to solve tough challenges. And there is no better way to address these problems than by the convergence of expertise.
This issue of Edge examines how U of T research leaders are working with government, social agencies, industry and businesses to address problems we all face. We present 12 examples of partnership across the spectrum of partnered research, which totals approximately $70 million a year. This is eight per cent of all funded research activity at U of T.
The impact of partnerships will be clear for you to see in this issue. Just as importantly, please note that all of the work of these partnerships began with the creation of new knowledge through fundamental research. That mix of basic research and applied work accomplished through partnerships is a powerful combination that drives progress throughout society.
R. Paul Young, PhD, FRSC