11/20/2014 12:47 EST | Updated 01/20/2015 05:59 EST

Rogers heart research centre created with $239M in funding from family, hospitals

TORONTO - The family of late media mogul Ted Rogers has donated $130 million to help fund a Toronto-based medical research centre in his name.

The Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research is also being supported with $139 million from three participating institutions — the Hospital for Sick Children, University Health Network and the University of Toronto.

Dr. Michael Apkon, president and CEO of Sick Kids, says Rogers' personal experience with heart disease and his interest in finding new therapies to advance heart health make the centre a fitting legacy.

Rogers was being treated for a heart condition when he died in 2008 at age 75.

The centre will bring together research, education and innovation in individualized genomic medicine, stem cell research, bioengineering, and cardiovascular treatment and management.

Its goal is to improve heart health across the entire life span, from childhood through adulthood.

The centre will also establish an innovation fund to drive discovery and development of next-generation therapies for heart failure. Managing the care of moderate and severe heart failure patients costs Canada's health-care system as much as $2.3 billion a year.

"Today, one million Canadians are living with heart failure, and that number is projected to increase 25 per cent over the next 20 years," Dr. Barry Rubin, program medical director of UHN's Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, said in a statement Thursday.

"This unprecedented gift will enable physicians and scientists working together in the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research to develop new therapies that will dramatically improve the lives of patients with heart disease," said Rubin, noting that one of the centre's primary goals is to cut in half the number of hospitalizations for heart failure in the next decade.

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