Premier announces $23-million grant for UWO research

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Premier Dalton McGuinty at Robarts Research Institute

Jon Purdy

"BOW TO ME, MY RESEARCH MINIONS." Premier Dalton McGuinty was at Western last week presenting a $23-million grant to Robarts for biomedical research.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty visited Western last Thursday to announce a $23-million grant for biomedical research at Western.

The grant comes in anticipation of Western’s merger with Robarts Research Institute, Canada’s only independent medical research facility, where hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students work and learn.

Internationally known for its contributions to biomedical research and high-tech medical imaging, Robarts went public with its financial trouble in January. Now, with the provincial government’s support, Robarts is expected to affiliate with Western later this year.

“This is one of those instances where the term world-class is not an exaggeration,” said Marty England, Senior Policy Advisor to Western President and Vice-Chancellor Paul Davenport. “It truly is world-class research being done, and it’s an area that puts London on the map.”

Davenport was delighted by the announcement and said the grant spoke of “a Premier and a government who really believe in research.”

“A lot of the scientists [at Robarts] will now be appointed at [Western], so it’s going to augment the teaching staff at the undergraduate level as well,” said Dr. Cecil Rorabeck, interim scientific director of Robarts.

Thanks in part to the grant, 120 summer students will have the opportunity to work alongside the scientists at Robarts this year.

“A strong research component on the campus benefits all,” said Chris Bentley, Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.

“It will infuse your prof with the knowledge of what’s going on here, bringing up-to-date, world-leading information right into the undergraduate classroom,” Bentley said. “It doesn’t get any better than that.

“It’s sort of like playing on the ice with Wayne Gretzky, even if you’re not playing on the same line " you can’t help but be better at hockey.”

The grant is part of the “Reaching Higher” plan set by the provincial government to improve post-secondary education in Ontario.

The initiative includes a $6.2-billion investment in post-secondary education and student financial assistance by 2009-10, representing the most significant financial commitment to post-secondary education from the province of Ontario in 40 years.

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