Nova Scotia

Medical community rescues Halifax brain mapping lab

Nova Scotia is keeping a brain mapping laboratory the federal government had planned to close thanks to a group effort from the local life sciences community.

13 jobs and specialized equipment will stay in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia is keeping a brain mapping laboratory the federal government had planned to close thanks to a group effort from the local life sciences community.

The National Research Council announced the closure last October, but the provincial government, medical researchers, Dalhousie University and a cluster of biotech companies rallied to raise close to $1 million to keep 13 jobs and specialized imaging equipment at the IWK Health Centre and the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre for the next two years.

Dr. Patrick McGrath, research head for both the Capital District Health Authority and the children’s hospital, said news of the closure was a bitter pill for researchers who relied on its expertise to map the brain and for homegrown companies such as Immunovaccine working on cancer treatments.

"We can get extraordinary precise size of tumours so we can then determine if their vaccine platform is being effective," he said.

"If we had lost this facility then we would have been unable to attract and retain the best and brightest clinicians, clinicians scientists and scientists. There would have been a huge brain drain from Nova Scotia, much larger than the number of people working together on this imaging."

In two years the lab will have to generate enough business to pay its own way.

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