Biotechnology finds a home

By Andy Kronstedt

The Alberta Government and the University of Calgary recently responded to the massive demand for skilled employees in the biotechnology field.

On Thurs., Sept. 28, the U of C unveiled its brand new, state of the art Biotechnology Training Centre. The training centre, in conjunction with the Ministry of Science and Innovation, will provide graduate students with a cutting-edge learning environment.

"We’re very strong in [the biological sciences]," said Dr. Gil Schultz, acting Associate Dean Research.

The training centre, which is unique in Canada, will surely draw more national and international attention to the U of C. In addition to the facility, a new program will be offered to students in the faculty of medicine.

"We’re developing a new masters biomedical technology graduate program," stated Schultz.

With the new program in place, the U of C will become one of the premier schools in Canada for research and graduates in this field.

"This new training centre is great news for Alberta," said Lorne Taylor, Minister of Science and Innovation. "This is a perfect example of our desire to bring this province to the forefront of life sciences research and then marvel at the end of the day when it is applied to the health, happiness and prosperity of our citizens."

The centre is equipped with state of the art lab and computer technology and will be equipped to instruct students in molecular biology, microbiology, molecular diagnostics, protein biochemistry, bioinformatics and electrophysiology. Not only does the facility instruct students in these areas through the use of lectures and books, but also through the latest lab and computer technology. Graduates of the program will be familiar with, and have experience using, cutting-edge technology and tools. As well, students will have an excellent knowledge base and experience to draw from should they choose to go into research.

In addition to the undergraduate program, programs for MSc and PhD students, MD/PhD students and postdoctoral associates will be offered.

To further disseminate knowledge, high school students can attend workshops at the centre to learn more about current technology and its various uses in medicine, agriculture and industry.

As of yet, the centre only has seven full-time students making use of its facilities. However, the uniqueness of this facility promises to attract many more students to the U of C in the future.

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