Construction underway on new scientific institute (Issue 6, 2011)

LIMS-sodA new scientific institute is set to keep La Trobe Australia’s No. 1 University for biochemistry and cell biology.

Work officially began on the site of La Trobe University’s A$94 million Institute of Molecular Science (LIMS) on 25 February. Of course, as is the way with all important building projects, the beginning of construction was marked by an official sod-turning. With spade in hand it was the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr who was on soil-turning duties.

Once the ground had been broken, the heavy excavators wasted no time in getting to work on this extremely important project that will strengthen La Trobe’s standing as Australia’s premier research university for biochemistry and cell biology.

After putting the spade down and taking off his hard hat, Senator Carr spoke of what LIMS means for the Australian scientific community and to Australia as a whole.

‘Biotechnology offers new weapons to fight disease, protect the environment, and improve industry productivity. Our investments in that vital research will support high-wage, high-tech jobs for Australians in our emerging biotechnology sector. The Government is proud to give the researchers of La Trobe the kit they need to remain at the forefront of their field,’ Senator Carr said.

The Australian Government has invested A$64 million in the project through the Education Investment Fund.

‘When LIMS opens in late 2012 it will weave connections between existing and new buildings, and provide an entirely new approach and focus to critical biosciences work on human diseases including cancer, malaria and autoimmune diseases,’ stated La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Johnson.

While LIMS will carry out research at the cutting edge of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, central to the LIMS mission is the stimulation of interest in science among secondary students as future success in scientific research cannot happen without a steady flow of students into the field.

‘La Trobe University will take a leadership role in promoting science to students at all levels of education through an expanded program involving more than 2500 secondary school students across the Northern Melbourne region,’ added Professor Johnson.

LIMS will comprise three levels of teaching laboratories, support spaces, a ground-level lecture theatre and an ‘equipment barn’. The upper three levels will include research laboratories and office space. LIMS is projected to generate A$15 million in research income annually and up to 220 extra research positions will be available once the building is open.

‘It is going to be a tremendously exciting prospect to integrate the teaching activities of the School of Molecular Sciences with this outstanding new research activity,’ stated Professor Nick Hoogenraad, Head of the School of Molecular Sciences.