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McGill celebrates new era of life sciences research in Canada

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Published: 16 Sep 2008

Life Sciences Complex will foster collaboration, generate next wave of biomedical breakthroughs, thanks to public-private partnership

Life Sciences Complex will foster collaboration, generate next wave of biomedical breakthroughs, thanks to public-private partnership

Boasting a long history of collaboration between its teachers and researchers, McGill University is now taking its deeply rooted research culture a giant step further with the opening of a multimillion-dollar McGill University Life Sciences Complex. This landmark facility, the largest construction project in McGill’s history, will encourage even greater interdisciplinary research by bringing some of the world’s key scientific talent under one roof, speed up the process of translating discoveries into treatments and cures, and in the process strengthen Montreal's position as a leading hub of biomedical research in Canada and the world.

On Thursday, Sept. 18, thanks to the vision of public and private partners, McGill will celebrate the Grand Opening of the Life Sciences Complex. Key participants will include Prof. Heather Munroe-Blum, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill University; Michelle Courchesne, Quebec’s Minister of Education, Recreation and Sport; Dr. Eliot Phillipson, President and CEO of the Canada Foundation for Innovation; major donors Francesco Bellini and Rosalind and Morris Goodman; Dean of Science Martin Grant; Vice-Principal (Health Affairs) and Dean of Medicine Richard I. Levin, as well as the principal researchers responsible for spearheading the project.

“The opening of this state-of-the-art Life Sciences Complex is a development of monumental importance, not only for McGill, but for health research in general,” Prof. Munroe-Blum said. “I am certain the co-operative efforts of our outstanding researchers, cutting across a variety of scientific and medical disciplines, will yield significant discoveries and, ultimately, much-needed treatments for some of the world's most devastating illnesses. And we could not be prouder of the fact it will all happen right here at McGill, right here in Montreal.

“Of course, we appreciate the very significant support provided by our private donors as well as our public partners, the government of Quebec and the Canada Foundation for Innovation, without which this project would not have been possible. I would like to take this opportunity to note as well the very important contributions made by the Bellini and Goodman families, whose exceptional generosity has allowed McGill to take this important step forward in building on its already spectacular reputation in the field of medical research."

The Life Sciences Complex encompasses two new facilities, the Francesco Bellini Life Sciences Building and the Cancer Research Building, as well as the existing McIntyre Medical Sciences Building and Stewart Biological Sciences Building. The newly named Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Centre will be housed in both the Cancer Research Building and the McIntyre Medical Sciences Building.

Integrating the existing buildings with the new structures eliminates the physical separation of people and creates an innovative space designed to encourage researchers in different disciplines to work more closely together in achieving scientific breakthroughs and developing new medical treatments.

The Life Sciences Centre is home to 60 principal investigators and 600 researchers, joined by over 2,000 researchers, technical personnel, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in the renovated Stewart and McIntyre buildings. With world-leading researchers in both medicine and science working shoulder-to-shoulder under one roof, the complex will serve as catalyst, helping translate basic discoveries into knowledge, innovative treatments and improved patient care. Its opening marks a new age of investigation into the cause, treatment and prevention of disease – investigation that promises to take scientific knowledge to another level with far-reaching benefits for human health.

Researchers will now have the working environment the need to move from molecule discovery to drug delivery, taking their science from the bench to the bedside. They will be able to tackle the entire spectrum of modern day diseases, from diabetes to cystic fibrosis, tuberculosis to cancer, with the goal of delivering good medical news for decades to come.

Not only will the Life Sciences Complex enable McGill to recruit and retain some of today’s most internationally accomplished researchers in biomedical science, it will also provide an ideal environment for these outstanding scientists to train tomorrow’s scientific leaders. The best and the brightest graduate students and post-docs from around the world have already begun to arrive thanks to the opportunities created by the multi-disciplinary aspect of the new facilities.

The Life Sciences Complex will offer many economic benefits to Montreal and Quebec, including an influx of quality jobs for the scientific community along with a strong potential for further investment in Quebec’s burgeoning biotech industry. Montreal, already a focal point for biomedical research, represents an extraordinary backdrop for the multidisciplinary research already taking place within the walls of the new facility, and allows for close ties between McGill and a network of affiliated hospitals. These relationships represent bridges to accelerate the transfer of breakthroughs realized in these new labs to patients in need within communities across Quebec, in Canada and beyond.

To help cover costs of construction and equipment, McGill received more than $41 million in funding form the Government of Quebec, and more than $27 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

“This state-of-the-art complex gives researchers the tools and the environment they need to undertake leading-edge research and transform it into innovative ideas,” said Dr. Phillipson of the CFI. “The advancements that this facility will enable are sure to have a real and positive impact on the lives of all Canadians.”

“The Government of Quebec understands the need to adequately support our institutions of higher learning, and the complex we are inaugurating today is further proof of our tireless efforts in that regard,” said Mme. Courchesne.

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