Lab Canada

Construction starts on international vaccine centre

Saskatoon, SK – This week, the sod was turned and construction started on the new 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 humans.

“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 Peter MacKinnon, the university’s president. “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 foundation will start next month.

It will be the largest vaccine research centre in Canada and one of the largest in North America, and scientists there will develop new vaccines and new methods of delivering vaccines.

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. Dr 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 Dr 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 world.

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.