Feb 07, 2013- 5:03 PM
AMRIC plans to convert St. Theresa into lab space
Although the deal went through about six months ago, nothing has been done to the property as of yet, according to the hospital's vice-president of research, Dr. Francisco Diaz-Mitoma.
In fact, for the next month or two, the Walford Road building, located about a block away from the hospital, is being leased from Health Sciences North by a film company making a movie called the Queen of the Night.
Diaz-Mitoma joked that he hopes the meet the star of the movie, Ryan Reynolds, and get his autograph for his daughter.
A little more than half of the building's 22,000-square-feet will be renovated to house about 30 cancer and vaccine researchers.
The researchers will work with the hospital's newly created research institute, the Advanced Medical Research Institute of Canada (AMRIC). Currently, AMRIC is limited to 12,000 square feet of lab space at the cancer centre.
Diaz-Mitoma said the hospital will likely use the balance of the space for clinical programs, as space is at a premium at the Ramsey Lake Health Centre.
He said he hopes renovations, which will include a roof replacement and the conversion of the building's interior into lab space, will be complete within 18 months.
“When you look at the current structure, there's classrooms,” Diaz-Mitoma said. “That's completely inappropriate to do experiments and research. It requires a full renovation.”
As for the cost, Diaz-Mitoma said he's not sure about that yet, but it will be a “multimillion-dollar” project.
He said the cost is included in the overall $70 million capital budget for AMRIC, which will also include the eventual construction of a large research facility on Health Sciences North's campus.
Diaz-Mitoma said AMRIC is both fundraising and approaching various levels of government to pay for the St. Theresa renovations and the construction of the new facility, which he hopes will be built within three years.
Even when the new facility is completed, AMRIC and the hospital will continue to use the former St. Theresa building.
“We'll be there for probably the next five to 10 years,” he said.
Although the St. Theresa renovations are slated to cost millions, Diaz-Mitoma said it's worth it because of the money AMRIC researchers bring in.
“Researchers are always making proposals, and building new research plans,” he said. “They will bring in the extra cash needed to expand the facility, buy new equipment or hire more people. It's a cycle where it grows by itself, organically.”
To learn more about AMRIC, visit www.amric.ca.