Folio News Story
October 20, 2006

U of A pharmacy school receives $25 million

New funding includes largest ever one-time gift to a Canadian pharmacy school

by Ileiren Byles
The newly named Katz Group-Rexall Centre for Pharmacy and Health Research should be open by 2008.
The newly named Katz Group-Rexall Centre for
Pharmacy and Health Research should be open
by 2008.

A good pharmacist can be the heart of a community, said Daryl Katz, chairman of the Katz Group chain of drug stores.

"As a son of a pharmacist, I know that a pharmacist is more than a dispenser of pills, and pharmacology is more than a trade. A pharmacist is always a scientist and health-care provider, sometimes an employer, often a friend and, from time to time, a life-saver," he said.

"I can't think of a better place than the University of Alberta and the city of Edmonton for young pharmacists to absorb the power of community spirit while they obtain the best academic education in Canada."

Canada's largest drug store chain of companies, theEdmonton-based Katz Group, and the Government of Alberta announced Oct. 6 that they are each contributing $7 million to the U of A.

The $14 million investment - the largest ever one-time gift to a Canadian pharmacy school - will be used to support important new educational initiatives in the U of A Faculties of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Law. In recognition of the gift, the west wing of the Health Research Innovation Facility, which is now under construction at the corner of 87th Avenue and 114th Street, has been named The Katz Group-Rexall Centre for Pharmacy and Health Research.

The Katz Group, owners of drug store chains Rexall, Medicine Shoppe, Pharma Plus and Guardian IDA, has also committed to help the university raise an additional $5.5 million from pharmaceutical and related industries. The provincial government has agreed to match those monies as well, for a potential total investment of $25 million.

Alberta Premier Ralph Klein, in announcing the government's contribution, said the Katz Group donation is typical of Daryl Katz, an alumnus of the U of A faculties of arts and law.

"Whenever he does something, he does it smart, and he does it big, and that's the secret to Daryl's success. His trademark approach to things is very evident in today's announcement," said Klein. "The donation is big. In fact, it's the biggest ever to a Canadian pharmacy program. And it's smart. It is a true investment in the future of his business, and it's a legacy for this university and the entire province, and of course that will resonate for years to come. It's an investment in the pharmacy students of tomorrow and in the U of A's pharmaceutical research that improves our lives in countless ways."

University of Alberta President Dr. Indira Samarasekera said she was "thrilled" that the U of A has received the single largest one-time package of funding given to any pharmacy faculty in the country.

"This transformative gift from Mr. Katz, along with the Government of Alberta's critical matching support, will enable us to enhance our students' learning experience in what is already recognized as the best pharmacy program in Canada," she said.

"These kinds of partnerships also provide our internationally renowned health researchers with the needed resources to quickly translate their discoveries into significant advances for the benefit of everyone accessing our health care system."

When fully funded, $12.5 million will be used to support capital costs of construction, $10.5 will be used to support state-of-the-art educational and research programs for pharmacy students and faculty, and $2 million will be used to fund a joint Pharmacy-Law chair in health law research.

Dr. Franco Pasutto, dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, said that the funding will be used to back the development of model pharmacies that support "the total pharmacy care concept."

"We want to be in the forefront of establishing a new standard for pharmacy practice, as pharmacists begin to play a more prominent role in primary health care," he said.

"The support will enhance our ability to conduct pharmacy practice-based research that will generate the evidence to support this expanded role for pharmacists."

Dean of Law David Percy added, "The Katz Group Chair in the Faculty of Law will provide an important link between the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences by offering interdisciplinary training in health law."