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Huge investment in infrastructure enables U of T to maintain international research leadership

“We have never seen an investment of this magnitude”

Ask any Olympic athlete, the facilities where they train every day have a huge impact on how well they compete on the world stage. Having access to the best means everything when you’re giving your all for gold.

Much like these Olympians, some of the world’s best minds at the University of Toronto will soon have hundreds of new state-of-the-art labs to test their theories, probe the secrets of the human body and the natural world and perfect the innovations that will benefit all of us.

“The Lab Innovation for Toronto (LIFT) investment of $190 million is a massive game-changer for our researchers at all three U of T campuses, not to mention for Canada and Ontario as a whole,” said Vivek Goel, vice-president of research and innovation.

Read about the historic investment in U of T labs

“The University of Toronto is already one of the top ranked research universities in the world. But to lead, we know we need to continually up our game. With the support of the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario, we’re ensuring our researchers have the facilities their critical work deserves and needs as we keep pushing our search for knowledge and real-world innovations into the 21st century and beyond.”

When experts around the world are looking for respected research with global impact they regularly beat a path to the University of Toronto, which is ranked seventh in the world for the most highly cited papers. In terms of quantity of its research output, U of T ranks second only to Harvard.

“In order to maintain this excellence, we need to continually invest in our research infrastructure,” Goel said. “We have never seen an investment of this magnitude. Our researchers are thrilled!”

 

Given the age and state of many of the existing labs up for renovation, it’s remarkable how much excellent work has been produced on all three campuses of the university. That is a testament to the excellence, ingenuity and perseverance of U of T researchers, as well as the university’s infrastructure team who have squeezed as much life as they could out of facilities — some that are a century old, he added.

But there is a limit to how far researchers can go when facilities aren’t up to snuff, said Daniel Haas, dean of Canada’s largest and oldest dental school.

Under LIFT, the U of T Faculty of Dentistry is receiving $30 million to renovate 95 cluttered and crowded labs into 21 larger facilities to foster cross-disciplinary collaboration among 65 researchers working in a variety of areas such as biomaterials and bioengineering, tissue regeneration and repair, and neuroscience and pain.

“Our ability to sustain our excellence is being seriously challenged by our outdated infrastructure,” Haas explained. “At our faculty, we have exceptionally talented people who are being limited in what they can accomplish, simply because of infrastructure.

“The funding announced today will allow our faculty to capitalize on their potential. It will help us modernize our existing facilities and sustain our position as leaders in health research.”

Overall, the LIFT transformation will result in 546 fully renovated labs — almost half of all the labs the U of T has — housing an estimated 1,100 researchers and 5,500 students. Their research will continue to result in significant discoveries and new knowledge, and much will in turn lead to innovative products or services and create the knowledge-based industries that will fuel the economies of Toronto and Canada in the future.

They will also blaze new paths for the next generation of innovators to emerge.

“Just think of what our researchers have already accomplished. Now, imagine what they can do next with this historic investment bolstering our research capabilities,” said Goel. “U of T already contributes $15.7 billion to the Canadian economy every year, helps draw $1.1 billion in annual research funding to Toronto and created 61 new companies based on research and technologies over the last three years.”

photo of students in biochemistry lab