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Major gift for cellular and biomolecular research centre slated to open in 2005


Toronto, ON – June 24, 2004 – A renowned Toronto philanthropist has given the University of Toronto’s cutting-edge post-genomic research centre – the first in Canada – a financial vote of confidence with a $13 million donation.

U of T president Robert Birgeneau says the Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research (CCBR) will bear Terrence Donnelly’s name in recognition of an $8-million donation to complement his earlier $5-million gift. The Terrence Donnelly CCBR will allow scientists from a wide range of disciplines to work collaboratively, exploring the links between genes and disease in a facility Dr David Naylor, dean of the Faculty of Medicine, calls “a potential Nobel factory.”

Mr Donnelly, co-founder of the law firm Donnelly & Daigneault, made part of his fortune through Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises. He has also given generous sums to St Michael’s Hospital and to the London Health Sciences Centre.

The Terrence Donnelly CCBR is under construction at College Street and the former Taddle Creek Road. When finished in 2005, its open-concept design will reflect the collaborative nature of the research being conducted there by scientists from the Faculties of Medicine, Pharmacy and Applied Science and Engineering. More than 40 researchers and their teams will work to understand disease processes at the molecular level and to develop effective treatments. The CCBR will also function as a collaborative classroom, providing hands-on training for approximately 300 students and 100 post-doctoral fellows.

“For me and for others, the CCBR is a chance to be in on the ground floor of a facility that will be at the forefront of medical research for the next 100 years,” says Mr Donnelly. “I believe in helping people to live lives free from disease and the only way to achieve that is through research.”

Professor Brenda Andrews, a leading yeast genomics researcher who will serve as the CCBR’s first director, says the collaborative effort will extend beyond the walls of the building to the U of T’s teaching hospitals.

“The fundamental discoveries made at the CCBR will mesh well with the work of our teaching hospitals and empower us in the quest to take discoveries from genes to populations and from molecules to communities,” she says.