Lobby of the Michener Institute
The colourful wall serving as the focal point of the newly-renovated lobby at the Michener Institute of Education at UHN is the result of Genetics Technology Professor Nicole Racz extracting and purifying Dr. Diana Schatz's DNA from a sample of saliva, which was then analyzed and turned into a digital image. (Photo: UHN)

The colorful new lobby design at 222 St. Patrick Street is a welcome, bright update to the space, but its meaning is deeper than you might expect. What you see is a commissioned work of art based on the DNA sequence of Dr. Diana Schatz, the founder of The Michener Institute of Education at UHN.

A year in the making, it started with imagining the design of a new food kiosk in the lobby.

"We wanted to animate the lobby and create a space that speaks to Michener's past and present," says Facilities Director Paul Martin.

Knowing that Michener has a genetics program, Paul and the architects from Gow Hastings discussed selecting someone core to the soul of Michener, and having students sequence that person's DNA as part of their education.

Diana was the obvious choice.

Diana Schatz and Kevin Smith
Dr. Diana Schatz, the founder of The Michener Institute of Education at UHN, and Dr. Kevin Smith, UHN's President & CEO, at the Michener 60th Anniversary event earlier this week. (Photo: UHN)

Execution of the project started just before the Student Awards last November, when Dr. Peter Bridge – Chair of Michener's Medical Laboratory Science Department – collected a sample of Diana's saliva. Genetics Technology Professor Nicole Racz extracted and purified Diana's DNA, which was then analyzed by Nicole and Professor Mark Adams in Michener's genetics lab.

A digital image was generated by Mark, which was chosen as the source for the lobby design, and then cropped, edited and approved by Dr. Bridge. Paul Martin then took the digital file back to the architects, who created the design that's in the lobby today.

"Diana was a pioneer in her field even before she was a pioneer in healthcare education," says Dr. Brian Hodges, EVP Education at The Michener Institute of Education at UHN.

"We pay tribute to her every day by instilling the same values in our learners today that she did 60 years ago, but having her DNA greet us as we walk into the building is a great visual reminder of all she has done for healthcare education."

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