research

SFU introduces Core Facility Program to support university community—and beyond

November 27, 2019
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An advanced materials facility that transforms research into world-class companies. A hub that leverages big data so Canada can lead in a digital world. A clinical research lab that rapidly advances treatments for devastating brain disorders and diseases. A centre of excellence for neuro-engineering research.

What do these Simon Fraser University research spaces have in common? They are part of a new Core Facilities Program model that SFU’s Office of the Vice-President, Research has championed and is now rolling out to the university.

SFU has a long history of shared research infrastructure among its faculties, departments and schools, and even among faculty members who grant other research groups access to their labs.

Over the last 10 years, the university has invested in four purpose-built core facilities that provide access to shared infrastructure across the SFU community, and beyond. These facilities promote shared resources on a university scale, which provides opportunities to acquire and share world-class equipment and to realize economies of scale in facility management.

Now, SFU’s new Core Facility Program is extending these opportunities and resources to other university research labs that meet the program’s prerequisites.

SFU defines a core facility as a shared research resource that supports a wide community of users. This resource may include unique physical infrastructure accompanied by expertise or services based around that infrastructure. However, unique physical infrastructure is not a requirement—the shared resource may be focused on specialized services that leverage university talent and expertise.

Presently, SFU’s core facilities are: 4D LABS, Big Data, ImageTech Lab and eBrain Lab (coming soon). The Core Facilities Program defines how core facilities are governed and provides common services for all of the facilities. The program also ensures that university core facilities align with SFU’s strategic vision, SFU’s Strategic Research Plan, and that overall administrative overhead is minimized.

“A Core Facility Program allows us to plan for the sustainability of these world-class facilities and to share services and expertise across those facilities,” says Dugan O’Neil, SFU’s associate vice-president, research. “This should benefit our internal research community, but also the community at large, who will have clear way to access our facilities and interact with our research community.”

Academic leaders of SFU’s core facilities:

Neil Branda, executive director, 4D LABS

"I am excited for SFU’s Core Facility Program to roll out to the university community. 4D LABS has been a state-of-the-art core facility at SFU since 2010, and I am proud of the facility and our staff for helping pave the way for other facilities to move toward this model. 4D LABS exists for our industry partners and both internal and external researchers to bring materials research challenges to us. We have the know-how, the equipment and the talent to design and execute customized research programs that will help find solutions to design, develop, demonstrate and deliver advanced materials technologies.”

Carolyn Sparrey, scientific director, ImageTech Lab

“SFU’s Core Facility Program has helped SFU’s ImageTech Lab to begin operating and become a resource for all investigators across SFU and in the wider community. The program emphasizes SFU's commitment to maximize the use and potential impact of significant infrastructure investments like our MRI and MEG systems at ImageTech. This support is critical for advancing SFU's objective to effectively share lab spaces and infrastructure.”

Fred Popowich, scientific director, SFU’s Big Data Initiative

“SFU’s Big Data Hub provides university-wide support for data talent, training and transformation. We are excited to be one of the inaugural core facilities to engage clients inside and outside the university. We bring our partners from government, industry and communities together to deliver unexpected insights and impact that can drive business forward and benefit society.”

Faranak Farzan, scientific director, eBrain Lab (coming soon)

“I am excited for the launch of the Centre for Engineering-led Brain Research (eBrain Lab). The future of mental health care lies at the crossroad of disciplines. eBrain Lab is the origin of this unique vision, bringing together engineering and neuroscience to solve the challenges of both preventing, and treating, mental health illnesses and addiction. With eBrain Lab, we will establish a centre for research excellence focused on developing cutting-edge, innovative solutions.”

Learn more about SFU’s Core Facility Program.