Support Ottawa biotech

October 3, 2005

City Editorial
The Ottawa Citizen

Even before the collapse of the computer and telecommunications economy five years ago, it was understood that the future of technology-based research was shifting away from hardware and software, and toward biotechnology.

Despite this realization, however, Ottawa was slow to recognize and aggressively back the trend. This is unfortunate, because the region is blessed with a number of research hospitals, government and private labs working in the field -- a pre-existing infrastructure that, with vision and effort, can be expanded into a global centre of excellence.

That's why Ottawans should strongly back fundraising efforts by the nascent Centre for Stem Cell and Gene Therapy. Currently being built at the Ottawa Health Research Institute, the centre has already raised about $16 million of the $18.8-million cost. If it can raise a further $2 million, it will be able to receive an $800,000 grant by the U.S.-based Kresge Foundation.

Clearly, the foundation -- which disbursed $119-million last year for projects around the world -- believes we have the ability to create a world-class research hub. So, too, the federal and provincial governments and the Ottawa Hospital, which are anteing up $14.8 million. Now it's the turn of the people of Ottawa to summon that same faith and come up with the $2 million needed to access the Kresge grant and prove the benefactors right.

Not only does stem-cell research potentially hold the key to curing a wide range of diseases, it would be an important step in re-invigorating Ottawa's staggering high-tech economy.

Reproduced with permission from the Ottawa Citizen