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Ceremony celebrates new medical facilities

JACOB KONST/Arizona Daily Wildcat
This dirt lot in the Arizona Health Science Center will soon be home to the Institute for Biomedical Sciences and Biotechnology. The groundbreaking ceremony will begin today at 4 p.m.
By Ashley Nowe
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, November 7, 2003

The groundbreaking for three medical research facilities will mark the start of the UA's quest to become a leader in research.

The Institute for Biomedical Science and Biotechnology building and the Medical Research building will soon be constructed on a 530,000 square foot lot.

A neighboring building, Roy P. Drachman Hall, will also break ground today on its 103,000 square foot space.

A street-fair style ceremony in honor of the groundbreakings will include refreshments, a performance by the UA Steel Band and a speech from President Peter Likins, as well as possible appearances from the mayor and legislators.

There will be stands at each site that include a detailed overview of each building's layout as well as its function.

The IBSB building, located on the corner of East Helen Street and North Warren Avenue, is expected to bring together 30 faculty scientists and 300 researchers, including neuroscientists, respiratory scientists, medicinal chemists and cancer researchers, who will study various fields such as the function of genes and protein systems.

The MRB will house basic scientists and physician-scientists from the College of Medicine, studying the molecular basis of human health, aging and disease.

The IBSB building and MRB are separate facilities, but are connected at various points, making each building easily accessible for the hundreds of researchers and students.

"We will not only cure the severe deficit of much needed research space, but more importantly it will bring together people that might not typically be together in the science field," said Vicki Chandler, co-director of the IBSB.

The building will also house some faculty and students from the College of Engineering and Mines and the College of Agriculture and Life Science.

The various colleges that are normally sprawled across campus will now have members working together in the same building, in hopes that new ideas will be sparked and solutions found.

"The building is great because it will bring together basic clinical findings and then other areas can make them apply practically to patients," said Anne Cress, the associate dean of research for the College of Medicine. "We will be able to pair laboratory-based scientists with clinical scientists."

The four-level building will also share an outdoor plaza with a quadrangle overhang to filter sunlight. The courtyard will have groves of trees that will provide shade, making it useable for lectures, dinners and informal gatherings. The $65.7 million IBSB, which is expected to be completed by December 2005, will have state of the art molecular life science tools, but more equipment is still needed.

"All that money doesn't include movable equipment," said Chandler, a professor of molecular and cellular biology. "We are really going to have to get busy writing grants."

  • Institute for Biomedical Science and Biotechnology
    $65.7 million

  • Medical Research Building
    $54.3 million
    New Buildings At a Glance

  • Roy P. Drachman Hall
    $30 million
  • The funding for the IBSB building came from the $440 million that the legislature gave to state universities for research facilities, Proposition 301 and donors.

    A $10 million donor will be identified at today's ceremony.

    The $54.3 million MRB received its funding from various contributors and the state legislature's allocation.

    Drachman Hall, which is named after Roy P. Drachman, a local real estate broker who donated a total of $3 million to the UA throughout his lifetime, will serve as a gateway to the Arizona Health Science Center.

    The hall will be a new home for the College of Public Health, which is dispersed at 19 locations across campus. The hall will also include the College of Nursing and the College of Pharmacy.

    "It will be wonderful for them to have a permanent home," said Lisa Fahey, the executive director of development for the Arizona Health Science Center. "With the shortage of healthcare professionals, this will expand class sizes, giving more room to train."

    The $30 million building will be located just east of the IBSB and MRB and is expected to be complete in June 2005.

    The National Institute of Health recently noted that interdisciplinary science needs to be developed across the country. In an assessment the NIH stated that the UA needed more research laboratory space.

    "I have been pushing for this for quite awhile," said Dick Powell, the vice president of research. "This university has the fourth largest public research school, and we have not built a new building for a decade."

    The lots also have room to expand, which will allow for the research buildings to keep up with fast-paced technology.

    "This gives us the space needed to handle a research program of our size," Powell said. "We can't recruit people without space, but this will definitely help with the university's recruiting."

    Since the buildings are located north of East Speedway Boulevard, a pathway is being built to connect them to the main campus.

    The Warren Avenue Mall Open Space Project will serve as a connector for pedestrians and bicyclists traveling from the Arizona Health Science Center to the UA Mall.

    "This has been a long project and still will be, but we are very excited to see the result," Chandler said.

    The ceremony is from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., located at the intersection of North Warren Avenue and East Mabel Street.

    "This is the wave of the future and this is what is going on around the country," Cress said.

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