VOL. 127 | NO. 113 | Monday, June 11, 2012
UTHSC Breaks Ground On Research Building
By Aisling Maki
The University of Tennessee Health Science Center broke ground Friday, June 8, on its $49 million Translational Science Research Building, which will be built on the grassy lot at the northwest corner of Union Avenue and South Manassas Street.
The building will bring together investigators from the school’s six different colleges and various disciplines. The integration of researchers from multiple disciplines is a focal point for translational research, breaking down scientific silos and barriers to encourage cross-pollination of ideas.
With 135,000 square feet, the facility, which is expected to be open in fall 2013, has a projected occupancy of 40 investigators and 25 staff members.
The four-story structure will be designed using an open format with an interior hallway connecting each of the labs on a given floor, allowing researchers easy access to each other and to shared equipment.
Elevated walkways will connect the Translational Science Research Building with the campus’ Cancer Research Building.
“There are researchers who’ll be studying new potential diagnostic and therapeutic modalities in the building, as well as the biology, which underlies those findings,” said Dr. David Stern, executive dean of the College of Medicine and vice chancellor of research at UTHSC said. “So this involves state-of-the-art laboratories, as well as what we now call dry lab facilities, in which the computer does much of the work. We mine data from many studies that have gone before.”
UTHSC continues to attract funding from the National Institutes of Health, the nation’s primary federal health agency for biomedical research, which conducts and supports basic, clinical and translational medical research, and investigates the causes, treatments and cures for both common and rare diseases.
NIH is engaged in a series of initiatives to promote clinical and translational investigation designed to prevent diseases and improve health, and to transform the local, regional and national environment for clinical and translational science by increasing the speed and efficiency of the research process.
UTHSC Chancellor Dr. Steve Schwab said the facility “will position us on the leading edge and totally in synchronization with the scientific approach of the NIH.”
With almost 2 million square feet of space in the heart of the Memphis Medical District, UTHSC annually garners roughly $100 million for research and sponsored projects funding. The funding translates to a nearly $2 billion annual impact on the city’s economy.
“This work involves highly trained individuals,” Stern said. “It’s true, there are some entry level jobs in a building like this, but there are many more sophisticated jobs. These are the jobs for people with computer skills, computational prowess, scientific ingenuity – I’d argue they’re the kind of people we want to attract and that we want to retain in our city. This work creates an impact economically by attracting grant money from throughout the USA, providing new jobs and expanding our innovation marketplace by spawning new companies … .”
Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell said growth of UTHSC continues to be of tremendous economic and intellectual benefit to the local community.
“The research work at the health science center here in Memphis has lead to the founding of several biotech companies, not the least of which is GTx (Inc.), Luminetx (Corp.), RxBio (Inc.) and many others. They continue to grow the study of health sciences. We want to be that type of government and that type of community that continues to show our active and aggressive support for all things related to health sciences.”