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Opening of world-class research and education institute at St. Michael’s Hospital promotes the discovery, sharing and application of knowledge

Toronto, October 18, 2011

Hong Kong businessman and philanthropist Li Ka-shingHong Kong businessman and philanthropist Li Ka-shing (centre) tours a research laboratory of the new Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael's Hospital. He was accompanied by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty (left) and hospital President and CEO Dr. Robert J. Howard (right). (Photo: Cliff Spicer Photography)

By Leslie Shepherd

"The humble heart is the beginning of all knowledge. Service is the hallmark of a life well lived" - Li Ka-shing

TORONTO, Ont., Oct. 18, 2011—A transformative gift from Hong Kong entrepreneur and philanthropist Li Ka-shing has created a world-class institute at St Michael's Hospital that will benefit people around the world by combining groundbreaking medical research, education and patient care.

The Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, established with a generous donation of $25 million by the Li Ka Shing (Canada) Foundation, was opened today by Li Ka-shing.

The institute is the first in Toronto and among the first in the world specifically built to bring together researchers, educators and clinicians to create an incubator for new ideas. The goal is to enhance knowledge translation and focus specifically on accelerating new treatments and best practices from the laboratory bench to the patient bedside.

"In a time of cynicism and skepticism, this project is true testament to the fine medical skills and dedicated care everyone in St. Michael's works so hard to deliver to its patients," Li said at the opening ceremony.

"Such skills and dedication are the foundations on which an institution of intellectual seriousness and extraordinary accomplishment in both research and education is built."

"Throughout the ages, people have tried to fathom the meaning of life. I have always believed life is about how we live it. Humility and service are great forces. They are the beginning of all knowledge and the hallmark of a life well lived," he told about 150 guests, including Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.

The premier said Ontario was proud to be a partner with Li and St. Michael's Hospital.

"Together, we're attracting leading international researchers who will help create good jobs here and improve lives around the world," he said.

Li toured the new institute, which is made up of the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, and met researchers, educators, hospital officials and donors.

St. Michael's President and CEO Dr. Robert J. Howard thanked Li for his donation, his visit and his vision.

"St. Michael's has always been involved in research and education. With Mr. Li's spectacular gift, we have been able to create new opportunities we just didn't have before," Dr. Howard said. "This building has been designed to bring researchers and educators together to create new possibilities that will advance patient care."

Dr. Howard referred specifically to Li’s gift for “knowledge translation” programs—finding ways to close the gap between the evidence and information obtained through research and what is done or is standard practice or policy in health care. About $100 billion is spent around on research around the world every year, but only a small per cent of that evidence is used in decision-making.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper sent a message saying the work done at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute will be "an invaluable gift to those patients facing life-changing diagnoses."

Li, through his Li Ka Shing Foundation and his company Husky Energy, has donated more than $75 million to support educational, medical and community welfare institutions in Canada over the past 18 years.

These donations have made possible a wide range of co-operative projects between China and peer institutions in Canada, fostering academic collaborations and cultural exchanges.

These projects include the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St Michael’s Hospital, the Global Leadership and Innovation Program at the University of Calgary, the Sino-Canadian Exchange Program at the University of Alberta, the Academic Exchange Program in Medicine at the University of Manitoba and the Shantou /McGill Summer Law Program at McGill University.

The Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute was designed by famed Canadian architect Jack Diamond. The Keenan Research Centre, named for long-time hospital donors Barbara and Patrick Keenan, and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, are physically linked by walkways at several levels and connected to the hospital by a pedestrian bridge over Shuter Street in downtown Toronto.

The Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre includes a new health sciences library and patient education programs incorporating leading-edge practices and information that will lead to improved patient outcomes. It is home to the FitzGerald Academy, a top choice for University of Toronto medical students, and the Centre for Faculty Development, which teaches the teachers how to teach. It also includes the Allan Waters’ Family Patient Simulation Centre, an innovative facility that prepares health-care teams for the real-life dramas that happen in the hospital every day.

Each year, St. Michael’s helps to educate the next generation of health-care professionals by placing more than 3,000 students, ranging from medical, nursing and other health-care students, to future planners, administrators and engineers. All of these learners will come together in a new student centre to register, seek advice, address administrative issues and interact with one another. St. Michael’s is a leader in interprofessional education, which promotes collaboration of professions and team training.

In the Keenan Research Centre, about half the researchers work on basic and clinical science, such as how cells get injured and how they repair themselves, as well as the molecular and physiological causes of disease such as kidney disease, heart disease and lung failure.

The other half focus on clinical, epidemiological and policy issues. Those in the Centre for Research on Inner City Health conduct research to better understand the linkages between poverty, social exclusion, and poor health. The Centre for Global Health Research focuses on the epidemiology and prevention of premature death in developing countries, specifically on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and chronic diseases.

About St. Michael’s Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 23 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, and care of the homeless are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Center, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

About the Li Ka Shing (Canada) Foundation

Li Ka Shing (Canada) Foundation was incorporated in Canada in 2005 in recognition of the warm welcome Canada has extended to Mr. Li Ka Shing and to his group of companies over the years. As with other charitable organizations established by Mr. Li, the Foundation was established to nurture a culture of giving. Mr. Li believes that this can be accomplished by focusing on capacity empowerment through education and the building of a caring society through medical and healthcare projects.

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