Sod-Turning Celebration Launches U of S International Vaccine Centre

    SASKATOON, SK, June 25 /CNW/ - Today representatives of all three levels
of government and the Canada Foundation for Innovation turned the sod to
launch construction of the International Vaccine Centre (InterVac) at the
University of Saskatchewan, a $110.4-million project that will significantly
enhance Canada's capacity to fight infectious disease in both animals and
    "We are delighted to celebrate the visionary partnership that has made
possible this state-of-the-art vaccine research lab to help save lives and
prepare Canada for future public health risks," said U of S President Peter
MacKinnon. "This project represents the largest investment to date in vaccine
research in Canada and it will greatly enhance the unique cluster of
world-class science research centres on our campus."
    The Biosafety Level 3 research centre - part of a national effort to
address existing and emerging infectious diseases - will be built on the
U of S campus next to VIDO (Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization) by
2010. Excavation of the InterVac foundation will start next month. Roughly 400
jobs will be created during InterVac construction.
    InterVac, which will be the largest vaccine research centre in Canada and
one of the largest in North America, will develop new vaccines and new methods
of delivering vaccines against diseases that may include tuberculosis,
hepatitis C, SARS, HIV, and avian influenza.
    Funding for the project comes from the Government of Canada
($49 million), the Canada Foundation for Innovation ($32.5 million), the
Government of Saskatchewan ($24.78 million), the U of S ($3.85 million), and
the City of Saskatoon ($250,000).
    "Control of infectious diseases is a global concern," said Warren McCall,
Saskatchewan Minister of Advanced Education and Employment. "Intervac will
help put Saskatchewan researchers on the world stage."
    "Canada's New Government is dedicated to working in partnership with
other orders of government to protect the health and safety of Canadians,"
said Bradley Trost, Member of Parliament for Saskatoon-Humboldt on behalf of
Canada's New Government. "We have chosen to make a strategic investment in
InterVac - an institution that will boost the country's technology and
knowledge infrastructure, attract more highly-skilled researchers to the
community and accelerate the development of important new vaccines."
    "Saskatoon took the lead in becoming the first municipality in Canada to
invest directly in a major research and development project, the Canada Light
Source synchrotron," said Mayor Donald Atchison. "We are proud to extend that
innovative thinking with an investment in InterVac. These projects will
attract top researchers from around the world to Saskatoon, where they will
work on solutions to improve the quality of life at a global level."
    "Once completed, InterVac will become one of the flagship vaccine
research facilities not just in Canada, but around the world," said Dr. Eliot
Phillipson, President and CEO of the Canada Foundation for Innovation. "This
is an exciting project that reinforces the University of Saskatchewan's
reputation as one of the pre-eminent hotbeds of research in the country."
    VIDO and InterVac will be operated as one entity. VIDO/InterVac is
expected to become the research centrepiece of the new U of S School of Public
Health and assume an increasingly important role in the development of
Canada's national infectious disease-fighting strategies.
    Andrew Potter, currently VIDO's associate director and an internationally
recognized authority on vaccine development, will become VIDO/InterVac's new
director on July 1. He succeeds Lorne Babiuk.
    While there are more than 90 Canadian laboratories with InterVac's
biosafety rating (Level 3), InterVac will be one of the few Biosafety Level 3
labs in the world that can undertake vaccine testing with large animals such
as cows. This advantage is expected to attract researchers from around the
    InterVac will be built to exceed international biocontainment safety
standards and its many special design features will ensure the safety of
workers, the community and the environment. Both Health Canada's Office of
Laboratory Security and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency will be involved
in regulating the safety of InterVac.
    The U of S has set up an independent Community Liaison Committee to
provide full and open communication regarding the safety of the world-class
facility. Comprising up to 12 community participants, the CLC is chaired by
Community Co-Chair Patricia Roe and the VIDO/InterVac Director. The CLC is
directly accessible to the media and the public. Questions concerning the CLC
and its role should be directed to the Community Co-Chair at:

    More information about InterVac including a media backgrounder is
available at:
    A downloadable image of the new building is available at:
    To view a video with more information on Intervac, please click the
following link:

For further information:

For further information: Tess Laidlaw, U of S VIDO, InterVac
Communications Officer, (306) 966-1506; Kathryn Warden, U of S Director,
Research Communications, (306) 966-2506; Cameron Zimmer, Communications
Officer, Western Economic Diversification Canada, (306) 975-6125; Jill Tzupa,
Communications Officer, Saskatchewan Advanced Education and Employment, (306)
787-1331; Angus McKinnon, Media Relations Coordinator, Canada Foundation for
Innovation, (613) 996-3160; Jill Cope, Communications, City of Saskatoon,
(306) 975-3207

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