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Tzu Chi Foundation announces almost $1 Million in support for VGH -- Funds dedicated to Ear, Nose, Throat and the fight against emerging infectious diseases

March 13th, 2007
Vancouver : Almost $1 million in new equipment and research funding is destined for Vancouver General Hospital (VGH), thanks to the generosity of the Tzu Chi Foundation Canada. Tzu Chi, long-time VGH supporters, are making their donation through the VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation and helping advance the world-class health care practiced at the hospital.

Their donation, which has two distinct components -- new, sophisticated equipment needed by the Hospital’s Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose and Throat or ENT) divisio n and a new groundbreaking technological platform that identifies and knocks out emerging infectious diseases -- demonstrates their foundation’s focus on charity, medicine, education and humanity.


“Our membership wanted to take action, and support something that would bring benefit to many,” said Gary Ho, CEO, Tzu Chi Canada Foundation. “By funding equipment, with tangible results for people in British Columbia who are cared for at VGH, and infectious disease research, with its worldwide potential, we’re pleased to be supporting the communities we live and work in, at many levels.”

 Part of the gift is a powerful new Ears Nose and Throat “Endoscopy System.” This piece of equipment is used for visually examining the interior of the nose and throat. It provides ENT doctors with a clear view of the nasal cavity and sinuses, down the back of the throat and to the vocal cords. It allows early detection and treatment of potentially lethal diseases, including a type of cancer, nasopharyngeal carcinoma , that is seen mainly in people originally from Southeast China, including Hong Kong and Guangdong.

 “These tumours, which appear in the nasal cavity, occur approximately 70 times more often in patients from this region, than they do in other patient groups seen at VGH ,” said Dr. Neil Longridge, Head of the Division of Otolaryngology. “Because this equipment is so much more powerful than what we’ve worked with before, it will make a big difference in diagnosing this condition, catching it before it is at a critical stage, and keeping people out of the hospital. The generous gift from Tzu Chi Canada Foundation will enable the latest, most advanced treatment for people from across B.C. with this disease and with other ENT illnesses. ”

 Nasopharyngeal tumours have an 80 per cent cure rate if caught early; but an 80 per cent mortality rate if detected late. The Endoscopy System not only allows medical experts to visually see potential tumours, but also to perform patient biopsies and treatments on the spot.

 The second part of Tzu Chi’s gift is a commitment that their organization’s members will raise $750,000 for an initiative intended to respond to infectious diseases of the future.

The Proteomics for Emerging Pathogen Response research project, more commonly called PREPARE, will have worldwide implications.

 The PREPARE project will accelerate the development of new drugs and vaccines for emerging infectious diseases, building on Vancouver’s success in fighting SARS. The project is made up of pioneering team members from VGH, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute (VCHRI), UBC and BC Centre of Disease Control who are using proteomics to identify the proteins in life-threatening pathogens and then designing computer-simulated drugs to precisely target and knock out these proteins. This new approach will cut in half the time required to develop targeted drugs and vaccines for deadly, unknown microorganisms.

 "Vancouver is an acknowledged world leader on the forefront to fight deadly emerging infectious diseases. Donor-led fundraising enables Vancouver to build on these strengths and emerge as a major centre to develop drugs and vaccines in record time,” said Dr. Neil Reiner, Head, Division of Infectious Diseases, VGH and head of the PREPARE project.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

  “We’re pleased to recognize Tzu Chi Foundation Canada today. They have been important to so many at VGH over the years. Their generous donation and the leadership they’ve taken is commendable,” said Ron Dumouchelle, President & CEO, VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation.”

  VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation is a registered charity that raises funding for the latest, most sophisticated medical equipment, world-class research and improvements to patient care for Vancouver General Hospital, UBC Hospital, GF Strong Rehab Centre and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute. For more than 25 years, the Foundation and its donors have been a bridge between the essential health care governments provide and the most advanced health care possible.

  Tzu Chi Canada Foundation was founded in 1966 by a Buddhist nun in Taiwan; the Canadian branch – based in Vancouver -- is one of 300 branches world-wide that focuses on charity, medicine, education and humanity with the spirit of sincerity, integrity, trust and honesty.


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For more information:


Lisa Carver

Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute Communications

Tel: 604.875.4111, local 61777

Cell: 604.319.7533



Celia Lam

Chinese Media & Community Relations Specialist

Cell: 604-312-8282