A boost for health care and the economy in Atlantic Canada
The Life Sciences Research Institute (LSRI) will turbo-charge the biotech sector, bring more first-rate medical specialists and researchers to the Maritimes, and give Atlantic Canadians access to the latest medical advances.
The LSRI is a partnership of Dalhousie University, Capital Health and the IWK Health Centre. As a combined research and enterprise facility based in Halifax, the $42-million, five-storey building will provide a focal point for the interplay between bioscience and entrepreneurial expertise. This potent mix of ideas and perspectives will ensure new discoveries will not be lost in scientific journals but used to generate new health-giving products, treatments and services.
In this way, the LSRI will help propel the region’s emerging life sciences sector into a significant force for economic growth. The life sciences, with their ability to create new products and services with global demand and export potential, have been recognized as one of the prime sources of new wealth in the expanding knowledge economy.
In Nova Scotia alone, employment in the life sciences sector grew by nine percent between 1999 and 2002. Sales increased 34 per cent in the same period, up to $256 million, and profits climbed 24 per cent to $82 million. Twenty-six new enterprises started up between 1999 and 2003. Meanwhile an estimated 40 per cent of Nova Scotia firms in the sector invested in research and development, making the figure $7.2 million in 2001. These statistics show the life sciences are ripe for growth in Nova Scotia; the LSRI can speed up the maturation process.
The LSRI will also help our region attract and retain top-notch medical specialists and researchers to meet the health needs of our population. Medical specialists and researchers prefer to locate in research-friendly communities served by progressive academic and clinical care institutions. The LSRI will bolster the appeal of the powerful combination of Dalhousie University, Capital Health District and the IWK Health Centre – the institutions which form the Governing Council for the LSRI.
Dalhousie University, Capital Health and the IWK Health Centre have a strong research community. Dalhousie is home to an impressive array of scientific departments and the largest Faculty of Medicine in Atlantic Canada. The faculty oversees the work of residents and undergraduates training at sites throughout the Maritimes. Chief among the clinical institutions staffed by faculty members and residents are the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre (run by the Capital Health District) and the IWK Health Centre, the main tertiary care facilities in Atlantic Canada. The LSRI will make the Halifax area that much more attractive as a world class destination for medical specialists and researchers.
Finally, it is important to recognize that the communities where discoveries are made are usually the first to benefit from them. Consider the work of Dr. Ivar Mendez, one of the world’s top neurosurgeons and the head of the Halifax-based Brain Repair Centre, slated to consolidate its operations in the LSRI as the anchor tenant. His startling innovations in telerobotic surgery and treatment for Parkinson’s patients are being pioneered in Atlantic Canada. Atlantic Canadians are already benefiting from this work.
Essentially, the LSRI will improve the health and the economy of the region. It will be a new source of innovation and opportunity, it will attract top medical specialists and researchers, and it will provide Atlantic Canadians with access to the latest advances in health care.
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