McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Farncombe Family Institute opens to applause

Published: October 15, 2010
Farncombe Family Atrium
Farncombe Family Atrium, the new facilities for the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute

The new facilities for the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute were officially opened with a round of applause as a cappuccino machine began steaming.

The coffeemaker was a gift for the Farncombe Family Atrium in tribute to Steve Collins, the founder of the institute who has often envisioned cappuccinos bringing together researchers by sparking the dialogue and innovative thinking planned for the unique room.

The reception and ribbon cutting was held Oct. 14 to officially open the institute’s unique atrium, new offices and laboratories on the third floor of the Health Sciences Centre and to thank the donors, the Farncombe family of Oakville.

The 1,800 square feet of space also contains the new metagenomics platform for the study of the intestinal microbes. However, the atrium is the centerpiece for the renovations. A two-storey, open-concept space with comfortable seating areas, conference tables, a lectern and screen along with dynamic stone and glass art, the space will host both formal and informal meetings, seminars, lectures and get-togethers.

"We realized as our group became bigger and more diverse we were forming silos and not interacting across disciplines," said Collins, the associate dean, research, for the Faculty of Health Sciences. "We needed to restore our tradition of interdisciplinary research that had served us so well in the past and this facility will achieve that."

He explained that the institute made a name for itself over the past 30 years by studying the gut as an integrated system. As a result of that research, the Farncombe Institute has been ranked one of the top 10 gastrointestinal research teams in the world for more than 20 years.

"The Farncombe Institute is ranked No. 1 in Canada in digestive disease research," said John Wallace, scientific director of the institute "We plan to stay there. To do that, we need to not rest on our laurels, but to continue to build a stronger team."

At present, the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute has 15 faculty members, 14 associate members and more than 76 students, research fellows and staff.

The institute was established with a $15-million gift in 2008.

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