FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 8, 2003
Contact: Larry Roberts email@example.com 410-706-7590
New Health Sciences Building Dramatically Increases Research Space
Health Sciences Facility II (HSF II), a new 101,000 square foot, $78 million biomedical research facility on the campus of the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), will open on Thursday, May 8, 2003. The largest building on the campus dedicated solely to biomedical research, HSF II will dramatically increase laboratory space for the schools of medicine and pharmacy, and pave the way for breakthroughs in basic science, disease prevention and drug treatment.
The grand opening ceremony will be held Thursday, May 8, 2003, at 2 p.m. in the HSF II lobby at the corner of Lombard and Penn Streets. The keynote speaker will be Elias Adam Zerhouni, M.D., director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which helped fund the construction of HSF II.
"HSF II will attract top-flight scientists from all over the globe to the University of Maryland, and provide the space we need to continue the dynamic growth in research we have achieved over the past decade," says David J. Ramsay, D.M., D.Phil., President, University of Maryland. "In addition, HSF II will contribute to the revitalization of West Baltimore by providing new jobs and economic activity."
The School of Medicine will occupy six floors of HSF II, which will provide 45 new laboratories, including a Biosafety Level-3 (BSL-3) containment facility for the study of potentially lethal biological agents. This state-of-the-art containment lab will permit infectious disease researchers to work safely with possible bioterrorist agents such as anthrax, and other illness causing bacteria and viruses.
Built with a $2 million NIH construction grant, and operating under tight security, the BSL-3 facility consists of seven self-contained labs, each with its own independent ventilation system. All doors, fixtures and openings within the lab are carefully sealed to prevent the escape of biohazards. An insectary will facilitate the study and transmission of insect-borne diseases such as malaria.
"HSF II keeps the School of Medicine on the cutting edge of biomedical research as we focus on new frontiers in genomics, molecular biology, proteomics, bioterrorism, and bioinformatics," says Donald E. Wilson, M.D., M.A.C.P., Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Maryland, and Dean of the School of Medicine. "I have no doubt that the opportunities for scientific collaboration created by HSF II will lead to new breakthroughs in patient care and drug treatment."
The School of Pharmacy will occupy the top two floors of HSF II, doubling the amount of lab space currently for the study of the underlying biology of disease, mechanisms of drug action, and drug design. The School has programmed multiple high tech facilities into their space that will tremendously aid the research programs of their faculty and serve as a resource for other units on campus. These include an X-Ray crystallography facility, a mass spectrometry facility, and at molecular modeling facility. Pharmaceutical research projects range from cell-based gene and drug discovery, drug development and manufacturing, pharmacokinetics and biopharmaceutics.
A $3 million gift from an anonymous alumnus helped fund the School of Pharmacy's portion of the building. "The multi-million dollar lead gift from our alumnus attests to the value of the education and research the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy provides and the mission of the school -- to improve the health and well-being of society by aiding in the discovery, development, and use of medicines," says David A. Knapp, PhD, Dean of the School of Pharmacy.
The basement of HSF II is home to the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Center. Scientists in the NMR Center will use four enormous magnets to decipher the structure and interactions of proteins at the atomic level. The magnets, called NMR spectrometers, excite the atomic nuclei of molecules and record the responses, which are too minute to be seen even with the world's strongest electron microscopes. The largest of the super conductive magnets stands 13 feet tall, weighs eight tons, and is 350,000 times stronger than the earth's magnetic field.
"This data is extremely valuable," says NMR director David J. Weber, associate professor of microbiology and molecular biology at the School of Medicine. "The NMR data is used to generate complex three-dimensional molecular maps, and develop new drugs that target specific proteins. Already, NMR researchers have discovered small molecules that turn off growth in certain cancer cells."
HSF II adjoins the original Health Sciences Facility (HSF I), which was completed in 1995. The new building includes offices for faculty and staff, three seminar rooms for small group learning, and a 100-seat auditorium for lectures and special presentations. Located across the street from the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, HSF II provides easy access to the University of Maryland Medical Center and the Baltimore VA Medical Center.
Construction of the new building was funded through a combination of public grants and private contributions. State funding totaled $57 million.
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