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New $20-million DNA Building Bolsters Trent University’s Position as a Leading Provider of Forensic Science Programs


State of the art teaching and research facility
supported by federal, provincial and local government investments

Friday, October 27, 2006, Peterborough

A new DNA Building constructed at Trent University’s campus in Peterborough, Ontario will contribute to Trent’s reputation as a major centre for DNA profiling, forensics, automation, and diagnostic, and provide students and faculty with access to the latest technology and research laboratories.

The interdisciplinary facility will house faculty from different disciplines studying cancer, bioarchaeology, molecular physiology and plant biology, in addition to wildlife DNA research. 

A multi-purpose facility, the DNA Building serves as home to Trent’s Natural Resources DNA Profiling and Forensics Centre (NRDPFC) and houses 56 researchers and staff from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR).  The NRDPFC is built upon a key partnership between Trent University and the MNR, and is dedicated to wildlife forensics.  Researchers affiliated with the NRDPFC have been involved in groundbreaking wildlife DNA research since 1998.  Dr. White also serves as head of the NRDPFC.

The diverse faculty affiliated with the DNA Building program include Dr. Bradley White, Canada Research Chair holder in Wildlife Conservation and Genetics and Dr. Dennis Murray, Canada Research Chair holder in Terrestrial Ecology.   A listing of all Trent and MNR faculty can be found at: www.trentu.ca/dnabuilding .

Representatives from three levels of government and funding agencies were on hand to celebrate the official opening of the new DNA Building with Trent students, faculty and staff.

“As Trent heads to its 50th anniversary in 2014, we are strategically positioning the University by capitalizing on its strengths in the humanities, social sciences and sciences, and creating relationships with new partners,” said Bonnie Patterson, Trent’s President and Vice-Chancellor.  “The DNA program and the new DNA Building represent one example of how Trent University is strategically raising its national profile and showcasing its teaching and research excellence in DNA Forensics.”

Commenting on the opening of the new facility, Dean Del Mastro, Member of Parliament for Peterborough stated,"On behalf of the federal government, I'm very pleased to be part of this special ceremony acknowledging the opening of Trent University's new DNA building.  The federal government's $3.6 million investment through the Canada Foundation for Innovation program will serve as a catalyst for a bright new future for Peterborough - creating high-quality jobs and opportunities for future commercialization related to the DNA sciences."

The Honourable Dalton McGuinty, Premier and Minister of Research and Innovation sent greetings to the opening ceremony stating, “We know that jurisdictions that invest in innovation will be home to the most rewarding jobs, the strongest economies and the best quality of life.  With a strong emphasis on shared research space, the DNA Building will provide an environment that is conducive to teaching, learning, and discovery within the growing disciplines of genomics and forensics.”

Over the course of the morning, more than 80 guests from government, granting agencies and media participated in organized tours.  These tours highlighted the Automation Lab, which features robotic equipment that can rapidly process thousands of wildlife DNA samples, the Post-Mortem Lab which is used to examine wildlife specimens to collect diagnostic samples or evaluate the cause of death, and the Forensics Teaching Lab, designed specifically for the Trent-Fleming forensics degree program. In the afternoon, open house tours were conducted.

“Moving into this new building is an exciting opportunity for ministry staff in wildlife, aquatic and rabies research to work closely with other leaders in DNA research,” said the Honourable David Ramsay, Minister of Natural Resources. “The work done here will improve our understanding of Ontario’s fish and wildlife, and will help us ensure these resources are managed sustainability with the benefit of the best available science.”

Jeff Leal, Peterborough MPP and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of the Environment stressed, “The DNA Cluster represents the future for the County and City of
Peterborough.  Research and innovation will be the backbone for future economic growth.  This is world class facility building on the strengths of a world class community."

City of Peterborough Mayor Sylvia Sutherland celebrated the opening by emphasizing the importance of the value of the facility for teaching, research and economic development.  “On behalf of the citizens of Peterborough we are very pleased that the City’s $2-million investment in infrastructure support for Trent’s DNA Building has resulted in construction of such a world class facility.  The DNA expertise emerging at Trent, when combined with the economic development and prospecting strategies of the GPAEDC and the Regional DNA Cluster, hold the long term promise for new high tech jobs and commercial investments in our area.”

The DNA Building is the first phase of a multi-level development for the Regional DNA Cluster, a multi-party collaboration among Trent University, Fleming College, the Ministry of Natural Resources, the City of Peterborough, the Greater Peterborough Area Economic Development Corporation (GPAEDC) and the private sector. Ground for the building was broken in July 2005 and the first occupants moved in on August 14, 2006. 

The new building is approximately 58,000 square feet and is divided into two blocks. Approximately 50 per cent of the building comprises laboratories with a strong emphasis on shared research space. Some of these labs are organized in a traditional layout while others are open-concept. Laid out in a grid-like design, the open-concept labs can be reconfigured quickly in order to adapt to ever-evolving scientific needs.

The building also consists of two seminar rooms, two classrooms and a large lecture hall. It is the new home for the Trent-Fleming Forensic Science program, Trent faculty from Biology, Anthropology, and Psychology, researchers from the Government of Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR), and independent researchers from companies such as Genopod Inc., a manufacturer of DNA sample containers and lab-related electronic equipment.

Key partners and supporters of the DNA Building at Trent University include: the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI); Ontario Innovation Trust (OIT); Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources; Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food & Rural Affairs (OSTAR Red); Ontario Ministry of Research & Innovation; and the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade; Fleming College; City of Peterborough; Greater Peterborough Area Economic Development Corporation (GPAEDC); Peterborough Region DNA Cluster.

The DNA Building is located on the East Bank of Trent University, behind Otonabee College and in close proximity to the Rotary Greenway Trail.


For more information, please contact:

Brittany Cadence
Communications Officer (Media Specialist)
Trent University
(705) 748-1011, ext. 5371
Email: brittanycadence@trentu.ca