New space expected to be completed by late 2015
Sudbury's medical research scientists will have a little more breathing room thanks to a provincial investment of nearly $5 million to convert the former St. Theresa's School on Walford Road into a new space to expand the Advanced Medical Research Institute of Canada (AMRIC).
Dr. Amadeo Parissenti, a principal investigator and scientist with AMRIC, said there is no more room to expand beyond the 12,000 square feet of research space AMRIC occupies at Health Sciences North.
Parissenti's research has focused on a test to detect the effectiveness of chemotherapy for breast cancer patients.
If doctors know chemotherapy is not likely to be effective for a patient, they can avoid its negative side effects early on and focus their efforts on alternative treatments such as surgery or radiation therapy.
The research project has spun off into a company called Rna Diagnostics that will conduct and perfect its RNA Disruption Assay tests out of Sudbury. To improve the tests, researchers want to implement robotics, but will need more space to do so.
With the Northern Ontario Development Corporation's investment of nearly $5 million, AMRIC will have an additional 14,000 square feet of research space at its disposal just down the road from the hospital.
Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci, who made the funding announcement Friday, said the research that will come out of AMRIC's new facility will be a “game changer” for Sudbury and all of northeastern Ontario.
Bartolucci said his sister is battling breast cancer for the fourth time, and research projects like Parissenti's could have a positive impact on her life, and on cancer patients around the world.
Dr. Francisco Diaz-Mitoma, AMRIC's CEO and scientific director, said the new facility, expected to be completed in late 2015, will allow him to hire two more senior researchers. With their respective research teams, he said it will result in about 18 new medical research jobs.
Diaz-Mitoma said he expects the staff at the new research facility to eventually expand to 38 positions.
The City of Greater Sudbury has already invested $1.75 million to support the AMRIC expansion, and Diaz-Mitoma said he hopes to receive additional funding from FedNor, which he said would be necessary to complete the project.
His ultimate ambition is for a brand new $60-million facility that would expand AMRIC's total research space to 75,000 square feet.
AMRIC estimates a new facility would allow it to employ 160 people, create a number of spinoff jobs and add $42- to $48 million in economic activity for Sudbury.