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University of Toronto expands research facilities through partnership with MaRS

September 3, 2015

TORONTO, ON – The Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to today announced it has acquired four floors in the new west tow­er of MaRS and will take a 20 per cent equi­ty share in the build­ing.

This new space will pro­vide much-need­ed lab­o­ra­to­ries and research facil­i­ties.

“This is a big step in our over­all com­mit­ment to sup­port our stu­dents, fac­ul­ty and researchers in their work solv­ing the most com­plex and dev­as­tat­ing dis­eases of our time,” said Scott Mabury, vice-pres­i­dent of uni­ver­si­ty oper­a­tions. “U of T is com­mit­ted to trans­lat­ing our research into life­sav­ing tech­nolo­gies, and this move comes much faster and at less cost than any alter­na­tive.”

The part­ner­ship solves an urgent need for new research space at the uni­ver­si­ty by cap­i­tal­iz­ing on the exist­ing build­ing that is ready for occu­pan­cy. U of T’s longer-term plans involve renew­ing exist­ing research space as well as build­ing new facil­i­ties.

MaRS is also an ide­al loca­tion – inte­grat­ing the uni­ver­si­ty even fur­ther into the fab­ric of one of North America’s largest bio­med­ical research hubs. The space brings togeth­er researchers from a vari­ety of bio­med­ical and engi­neer­ing spe­cial­ties, clin­i­cians, entre­pre­neurs and indus­try part­ners.

“It is fit­ting and very excit­ing that the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to should become a co-own­er of the MaRS West Tow­er, and a major pres­ence in the build­ing,” said Pres­i­dent Mer­ic Gertler. “We are a found­ing part­ner in MaRS, and U of T fac­ul­ty, staff and stu­dents play a cru­cial role in the Toron­to region tech­nol­o­gy clus­ter and inno­va­tion ecosys­tem.”

The first U of T groups to move over to the new MaRS tow­er are the Med­i­cine by Design ini­tia­tive, the Ted Rogers Cen­tre for Heart Research, the Cen­tre for Com­mer­cial­iza­tion of Regen­er­a­tive Med­i­cine, and the SciNet advanced com­put­ing and data ana­lyt­ics cen­tre. Oth­er research groups from the Temer­ty Temer­ty Fac­ul­ty of Med­i­cine will move to MaRS to enhance exist­ing net­works in regen­er­a­tive med­i­cine, drug dis­cov­ery and infec­tious dis­ease.

“It’s amaz­ing the inno­va­tion and cre­ativ­i­ty that hap­pen when you bring peo­ple togeth­er under one roof,” said Michael May, pres­i­dent and CEO of the Cen­tre for Com­mer­cial­iza­tion of Regen­er­a­tive Med­i­cine. The not-for-prof­it cen­tre takes a col­lab­o­ra­tive approach to over­com­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing chal­lenges and com­mer­cial­iza­tion bot­tle­necks in the regen­er­a­tive med­i­cine field. Its first spin-off com­pa­ny, ExCellThera, will soon be expand­ing stem cells in cord blood to improve stem cell trans­plants for leukemia patients.

“We’re mak­ing con­nec­tions that weren’t pos­si­ble in the past – bring­ing togeth­er biol­o­gists, engi­neers, clin­i­cians, man­u­fac­tur­ing spe­cial­ists and busi­ness pro­fes­sion­als,” said May. “We’re build­ing a crit­i­cal mass that is putting Toron­to on the radar as a top-tier bio­med­ical research cen­tre.”

Temer­ty Temer­ty Fac­ul­ty of Med­i­cine Dean Trevor Young is excit­ed by the boost this will give to the university’s fun­da­men­tal sci­ence researchers. “This is a great oppor­tu­ni­ty to help the basic sci­ence sec­tor thrive,” he said. “Our researchers will ben­e­fit from work­ing close­ly with the oth­er great orga­ni­za­tions at MaRS, and they’ll also be able to con­tribute their exper­tise in the design of new ther­a­pies.”

The state-of-the art facil­i­ties are also a way to show­case the university’s research momen­tum.

“When peo­ple come to our floor in the MaRS build­ing,” said May, “they’ll see high­ly qual­i­fied tech­ni­cians in ‘space suits’ man­u­fac­tur­ing cells in one cor­ner, aca­d­e­m­ic researchers ana­lyz­ing data in anoth­er, and busi­ness pro­fes­sion­als launch­ing new com­pa­nies in anoth­er. That’s an impres­sive scene, and it will help us attract and retain the best researchers, com­pa­nies and investors.”


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