The University of Calgary is seeking $50 million from the province to help build a cutting-edge, $140-million medical research and teaching centre at the Foothills Hospital site in the northwest.
Dubbed the Heath Research Innovation Centre, the 500,000-sq.-ft. facility would double the university’s medical research space, says Dr. Grant Gall, dean of the U of C’s medical faculty.
“We’ve already consulted with the (neighbouring) community,” which is very supportive, he said. “We’ve gone through a functional plan already . . . we’re actually doing the architectural design right now.”
The new centre is needed because the U of C’s existing medical research buildings are full, Gall said. The university expects to increase its medical research business over the next five years to $250 million annually from about $130 million this year.
Lorne Taylor, Alberta Innovation and Science Minister, says the cabinet is aware of the U of C proposal, and one from the University of Alberta seeking similar funding for a new medical research centre. “These are really necessary concepts, but it’s just in the early stages of discussion yet with provincial government,” Taylor said.
There “is a huge need” for the new research centres, Taylor said. Without them, “we will start to have trouble attracting the senior clinical practitioners, because one of the things they want to be involved in is some clinical research.”
The U of C has already begun recruiting topnotch Canadian and international researchers on the premise the new centre will be built.
The Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research has promised $20 million toward the new facility, Gall said. The U of C would look to other funding sources, including the federal Canadian Foundation for Innovation, to bring its total package to $140 million.
Key research areas in the new centre would include proteomics and transgenics. Proteomics is the study of how proteins function in genes, while transgenics involves implanting genes in laboratory animals, especially mice, to understand the genetic basis of human development and diseases. Both areas are crucial for tapping potential new drugs and other treatments in the wake of the human genome being decoded.