John Abbott College and Collège Gérald-Godin announce creation of Life Sciences and Health Partnership

    Donation of $600,000 from Pfizer Canada to kick-start collaboration

    KIRKLAND, QC, Feb. 18 /CNW Telbec/ - John Abbott College and Collège
Gérald-Godin announced today the creation of the Life Sciences and Health
Partnership campaign. The campaign will raise funds to enhance, with
specialized equipment and programs, the new Pharmaceutical Technology program
being introduced at both West Island educational institutions. The new
Pharmaceutical Technology Program was approved by the Ministry of Education,
Leisure and Sports last year and will start being offered this fall.
    At a symposium, entitled "The Challenges of Science Education in the 21st
Century", held at Pfizer Canada's Kirkland head office to mark the launch of
the Life Sciences and Health Partnership, Pfizer Canada announced that it was
making a $600,000 lead donation to this campaign. Mr. Paul Lévesque, President
of Pfizer Canada, has also agreed to chair a campaign within the
pharmaceutical industry to ensure further funding.
    "It is critical that knowledge-based industries get involved in this new
program aimed at developing young minds with the goal of encouraging them to
pursue a career in the field of health sciences," said Mr. Lévesque.
    "With increasing competition from emerging nations such as Argentina,
Brazil and China, it is critical for Canadian and Quebec-based pharmaceutical
companies to foster a culture of excellence. It is our responsibility to
invest in and grow a knowledge-based industry through educational programs and
    Symposium panellist Dr. Joe Schwarcz, Director of the Office of Science
and Society at McGill University, echoed this belief and said the challenge is
not so much to increase the number of science graduates as it is to address
the problem of science illiteracy. "We have a society that is essentially
science illiterate. We expect people to make scientific decisions everyday
without having provided them with the basic tools to make an informed
    Dr. Schwarcz also said educators have to improve the way they teach
science and make it relevant to the everyday problems. "When I studied
electrochemistry," he said, "it was all theory.  Nobody ever told me we were
talking about batteries."
    Erich Schmedt, Dean of Science and Related Technologies at John Abbott
College, concurred and indicated that the new Science and Health Technologies
Programs at John Abbott College and Collège Gérald-Godin are moving towards
inquiry-based learning. "Traditionally, our curriculum focused on cookbook
laboratory work, centered on theory. We'd give students a recipe and ask them
to go through steps to arrive at a specific outcome. In the future, we will
give students a problem and ask them to conduct laboratory experiments to
attempt to solve that problem."
    Michèle Houde, an Honours Science student at John Abbott, endorsed the
concept of relevance in a science education. "There would be fewer dropouts in
the science program if students were reminded of the real importance and
usefulness of the knowledge they are acquiring," she said. "Interacting with
pharmaceutical and other health and science employers gives students an
important perspective."
    The symposium, moderated by Keith W. Henderson, Director General of John
Abbott College, also included presentations from Sylvia Rossi, Academic Dean
of Collège Gérald-Godin and Mr. Lévesque. More than 60 business and community
leaders were in attendance.
    The Life Sciences and Health Partnership is a joint venture between West
Island CEGEPs, Collège Gérald-Godin and John Abbott College, and the
pharmaceutical industry, to promote awareness of the importance of a science
education and to broaden interest in the study of science because of its
importance to society.

    About John Abbott College

    John Abbott College is a public Anglophone college serving students since
1971. Today, its increasingly diverse student body includes 5,600 full-time
day students and an additional 2,000 continuing education students. Admissions
continue to rise and are projected at 6,200 full-time day students alone by
2012, according to the Ministère de l'éducation, du loisirs et du sport. John
Abbott is situated on the western tip of the Island of Montreal, in

    About Collège Gérald-Godin

    The only francophone CEGEP in Montreal's West Island, Collège
Gérald-Godin opened its doors to the public in 1999. With a student capacity
of 1100, the College offers quality instruction with personalized attention in
a cutting-edge environment. Various adult courses and services for
corporations are also offered through the department of Continuing Education.
The College is situated in an idyllic location alongside the Rivière des
Prairies in Sainte-Geneviève.

    About Pfizer Canada

    Pfizer Canada Inc. is the Canadian operation of Pfizer Inc, the world's
leading pharmaceutical company. Pfizer discovers, develops, manufactures and
markets prescription medicines for humans and animals. Pfizer Inc invests more
than US $7 billion annually in R&D to discover and develop innovative
life-saving and life-enhancing medicines in a wide range of therapeutic areas.
Pfizer Canada is one of the top investors in Canadian R&D, investing more than
$190 million in 2005. Canadian headquarters of Pfizer Global Pharmaceuticals
is in Kirkland, Quebec. For more information, visit

For further information:

For further information: Amy Gregus, RPPR Inc., (514) 426-7137; Lucie
Fournier, John Abbott College Foundation,  (514) 457-6610 ext 5255; Sophie
McCann, Pfizer Canada,  (514) 693-4161

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