03/04/2010

WVU to build $14.5 million biomedical research facility

Stimulus funds support cancer, neurosciences and other studies

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University will construct a new biomedical research facility on its Morgantown campus with $14.5 million in funding awarded Thursday by the National Institutes of Health.

The grant is the largest to date at WVU under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and is the result of a competitive process in which the University’s proposal was evaluated and ranked by a national panel of scientific experts. 

WVU will use the funds to construct a 22,000-square-foot building, adjacent to the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center (HSC), to meet the infrastructure needs of current and future biomedical researchers who use laboratory animal models to study human diseases and their treatments.

"This grant will help us meet a long-felt need at the Health Sciences Center -- the construction of a fully state-of-the-art facility to house and care for research animals," said Christopher C. Colenda, MD, MPH, WVU's chancellor for health sciences. "The funding of this project by the National Institutes of Health is recognition of the quality of the research conducted by our faculty, and their confidence in our ability to continue and expand this work.”

The new facility is expected to result in 253 additional permanent jobs on the WVU campus, including 13 directly in the animal quarters and 240 in biomedical research laboratories around the Health Sciences Center. During construction, the project will add 113 jobs to the local community.

The grant will help the HSC move forward with a long-term strategic plan for developing research facilities and expanding research programs in cancer, neurosciences and other areas of biomedical research. It will include modern animal housing space, with independent air handling and other biosafety features. The project complements the new laboratory space that has already been constructed on campus, including the Erma Byrd Biomedical Research Center, completed in 2008.

"I want thank the team led by Dr. Stanley D. Yokota of the School of Medicine that did the hard work of planning this facility and developing a presentation that his scientific colleagues at the NIH found very convincing and compelling, “ Dr. Colenda said. “And I particularly want to thank our delegation in Congress which has consistently supported our University. By their support of research funding in the stimulus package, they helped provide us the opportunity to compete for this new source of investment in our campus.”

The building is the second phase of a project to replace the HSC’s original animal quarters, built in 1957, which are inadequate to meet modern standards for the care and use of research animals. The first phase is currently under construction.

Planners at the HSC recognized the need for new and expanded animal quarters more than a decade ago, as the research faculty and the numbers of graduate students and others who use laboratory animals began to increase. The NIH and the biomedical research community have recognized that it is essential to have facilities capable of developing and maintaining relevant animal models of human disease to aid in the design of new methods of prevention and treatment. 

The specialized facilities required for biomedical research are expensive to build because of the need for isolation barriers to protect animals and researchers, separate utility, sanitation and air handling systems, and equipment to protect the research animals’ food and water supplies from contamination.
 

-WVU-


10-036
For more information:
Kim Fetty, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
fettyki@wvuh.com
bc: 03-04-10

Return To News Releases