A new home for life science students at UBC

Undergraduate Life Sciences Teaching Laboratories. Photo: UBC Science.

Students can now study for careers in the life sciences – including genetics, healthcare, conservation and ecology – in renovated and expanded Undergraduate Life Sciences Teaching Laboratories at the University of British Columbia.

The $91-million project, officially opened today, increases capacity and provides life sciences students with opportunities to learn in well-equipped and spacious teaching laboratories, modern classrooms, and study areas designed to encourage collaboration and hands-on learning. It replaces some building facilities that are more than 70 years old.

“This building supports the next generations of researchers finding ways to combat disease, protect agriculture, and create innovative medicines,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “We expect thousands of careers in science and technology in the next decade, and this state-of-the-art building will empower students to get the hands-on experience they need to thrive and build the best BC.”

The multi-year facilities overhaul at UBC’s Vancouver campus was made possible by joint federal-provincial funding through the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund. The project received $32.5 million from the Government of Canada, $11.8 million from the Government of British Columbia and $47.1 million from UBC.

“I look forward to generations of UBC Science students walking through these doors,” said Dean of Science, Meigan Aronson. “And I hope that in their time here they'll discover their scientific dreams and feel empowered to pursue them.”

The official opening of the new facility was celebrated with the Honourable Joyce Murray, Minister of Digital Government, Bruce Ralston, BC’s Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology, David Eby, MLA for Vancouver-Point Grey, Santa J. Ono, UBC president and vice-chancellor, and university students, faculty and staff.

“This unique partnership between the Government of Canada, the Province of BC and the University of British Columbia will further enable UBC to attract leading life sciences researchers and ensure our students are inspired to innovate and discover in exceptional learning facilities,” said Ono.

The project demolished, renovated and expanded decades-old teaching space in the Biological Sciences Centre and North Wings, and Wesbrook and DH Copp buildings at UBC. It consolidates all life and biological sciences teaching labs on campus into one space, including botany, zoology, microbiology and immunology, the physiological sciences, biochemistry and molecular biology. The space serves both faculty and over 2,600 students in UBC’s life sciences programs.

The project renovated 5,490 square-metres, renewed 5,348 square-metres, added 9,069 square-metres. It also improved the environmental performance of the facility to be consistent with CleanBC, and is targeting LEED® Gold standard certification.

“This historic investment by the Government of Canada is a down payment on the government’s vision to position Canada as a global centre for innovation,” said Navdeep Bains, Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “This means making Canada a world leader in turning ideas into solutions, science into technologies, skills into jobs and start-up companies into global successes.”

Investments through the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund are being used to modernize facilities at Canadian universities and colleges, as well as improve the energy efficiency of these facilities and reduce their impact on the environment.

This new facility supports programs that can contribute to a cleaner BC. For example, students can go on to work in the biotechnology sector, developing bacteria that consume toxic chemicals and reduce pollution, or research environmental degradation.

“This building supports the next generations of researchers finding ways to combat disease, protect agriculture, and create innovative medicines.”

Alex Walls
Media Relations Specialist, UBC Media Relations