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New facility to fuel medical research

May 15, 2008

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A $1.9-million investment from the federal government May 2 will fund a new SFU research facility that promises to significantly expand the university’s medicinal chemistry capacity - and its role in health and life sciences.

The facility, to be called MedChem, will provide a vital new environment for researchers to develop promising new therapeutic drug compounds for further testing and potential commercialization, including an incubator for early-stage biotechnology companies.

MedChem will also house the SFU node of the Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD), a non-profit agency supported by four B.C. universities, three teaching hospitals, the B.C. Cancer Agency and several provincial biotech companies.

MedChem will build on the university’s previous investments in medicinal chemistry to provide the physical infrastructure and equipment for SFU spinout companies to launch their operations with minimal investment, says chemistry professor and VP-research, Mario Pinto.

Pinto says MedChem will add value to, and critically evaluate, new biotechnologies, adding "it will provide the missing link in the chain from ideas to innovation to commercialization."

The new facility follows the recent high-profile appointment of research chemist Robert Young as the Merck Frosst B.C. leadership chair in pharmaceutical genomics, bioinformatics and drug discovery at SFU. The university has also cultivated valuable synergies with medical research organizations including Genome BC, Life Sciences BC and the province’s biotechnology community.

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