Before a crowd of 300 or more, Brock University ushered in a new era of research and community development today (Sept. 14) as officials and guests opened the Cairns Family Health and Bioscience Research Complex.
The new building’s airy Scotiabank Atrium was spilling over with faculty and staff, University officials, dignitaries, area politicians and other guests. They all cheered when brothers Jeff and John Cairns snipped a red ribbon to formally open the landmark that bears their family name.
The Cairns Complex will be home to leading Brock researchers in biotechnology, green chemistry, plant pathology and health and wellness. It also houses BioLinc, a business incubator to support start-up businesses and capitalize on the innovative research happening within the walls of the facility.
While the visionary project has been funded by all levels of government, it is the $10-million impact gift from the family of the late Roy Cairns, a St. Catharines businessman and philanthropist, that has become a symbol of local support for the project. Besides the Cairns commitment, the building has also received generous gifts from other citizens, businesses and organizations across Niagara.
“They say you only have one opportunity to make a first impression, and this first impression to visitors and students to Brock is stunning and impressive,” said Jeff Cairns. “But it’s not the looks that count, it’s what’s inside that will make the difference for Brock and Niagara. We are humbled to have our name associated with this building and what it represents.”
The striking $112-million complex houses 176,000 square feet (more than four acres) of labs, purpose-built teaching and research space and cutting-edge facilities that have the potential to re-chart the future of the University and its surrounding communities.
Seen as a vital catalyst that can help transform the regional economy, the building has received $71.5 million from the federal and provincial governments, plus $2.1 million from the Regional Municipality of Niagara.
“Local support for this project indicates that Niagara citizens and communities realize how important this complex is to our future prospects,” said Brock President Jack Lightstone. “The Cairns family and other generous donors have made that clear. Likewise, the Niagara Region government made a loud statement when it contributed more than two million dollars to make sure this project was completed.”
“This is a very exciting day,” said St. Catharines MP Rick Dykstra, “not just for Brock University, but also for the Niagara region and beyond, as the Cairns Complex provides the opportunity for future economic development and research that will improve our quality of life.”
“This is a great day for Brock and for St. Catharines,” said St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley. “The research complex promises to attract and develop skilled, talented people and to spin-off new business and jobs.”
Features of the Cairns Complex include:
- the Niagara Campus of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine;
- a research greenhouse and plant transformation facilities to study how to use plants to produce safer, faster and cheaper pharmaceuticals in addition to improving their ability to produce natural disease-fighting compounds;
- a research-dedicated Containment Level 3 (CL3) laboratory with an insectary to investigate vectors of disease as well as treatments for deadly infectious diseases like SARS, tuberculosis and West Nile virus; and
- the Centre for Bone and Muscle Health, which brings together researchers from various disciplines to better understand the functioning and adaptability of muscle tissue and how it contributes to health and disease.
The complex will also provide additional meeting, office and common spaces for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and researchers, including Niagara Health Systems research scientists.