Funds build new research lab space

Expansion of facilities responds to growing demand for leading biotechnology research

Two research centres on campus have received more than $13 million in funding from the B.C. Knowledge Development Fund.

A $10.1-million contribution will help fund a 7,400-square-metre research facility for the Biotechnology Laboratory. More than $3.4 million in knowledge development support goes to the Brain Research Centre.

"This provincial contribution is an endorsement of the world-class research taking place at UBC," says UBC President Martha Piper. "It allows us to build our research partnerships, attract top scientists, move toward important innovations and pass on new knowledge to our students."

Strengthening UBC's research infrastructure to support the academic plan is a key part of Trek 2000, the university's vision statement.

UBC's Biotechnology Laboratory was established in 1987 by founding director and Nobel laureate Michael Smith, for whom the new building will be named. The Michael Smith Building will be constructed adjacent to the Earth and Ocean Sciences Annex at the south end of the UBC Bookstore.

"This expansion is vitally needed because of the explosion in biotechnology research that's going on right now," says Doug Kilburn, director of the Biotechnology Laboratory. "And it couldn't be more fitting that our new building will be named for the man who brought so many of our top young scientists on board."

The Biotechnology Laboratory is the UBC component of the Centre for Integrated Genomics (CIG), a collaborative venture of UBC and the BC Cancer Agency (BCCA).

Construction of the new lab is phase one of CIG development. Other facilities of the multi-site centre are the Genome Sequence Centre and the proposed new Cancer Research Centre at the BCCA, recently submitted to the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) for funding consideration.

When completed, the CIG will comprise almost 30,000 square metres of new laboratory facilities that will accommodate close to 1,000 researchers, including clinical researchers at the BCCA.

CFI has contributed $9.35 million to the Biotechnology Laboratory component of CIG. Almost $8 million has been provided by the university thanks to a donation made in 1998 by alumnus Stewart Blusson. The building's total cost is more than $27 million.

A joint project of UBC and Vancouver Hospital and Health Sciences Centre (VHHSC), the Brain Research Centre is directed by Ophthalmology Prof. Max Cynader. It will use its funding to renovate two floors of the Koerner Pavilion at the UBC Hospital.

"We are at a critical moment in our understanding of the brain," says Cynader. "By concentrating our neuroscience expertise we can accelerate advances and translate them quickly into new therapies."

Research in the 5,700-square-metre facility will focus on the development of new diagnostics and therapeutics for vision diseases and for brain diseases such as Alzheimer's, schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease. Other investigations will look at how the brain learns and the effects of aging on the brain.

Additional support from CFI matching funds, UBC and VHHSC and private donations will fund the centre's total cost of $33 million.

See also

Facility to honour leading scientist