New science building on its way to completion

The facility will be home to new and ongoing research.

By next winter, the Medical BioSciences Building will house cutting-edge research, but for right now, itâÄôs only inhabitants are construction workers. The MBB will cost a total of $67.5 million to complete, have six floors and encompass 111,900 square feet. Most of the research will take place on floors two through five âÄî floors most University of Minnesota students will never see. The café on the first floor will be the only part open to the public. The rest of the building will be a secure research facility and a home to research in neuroscience, memory and immunology. The building will be substantially complete in August, Ross said, but there will be several months of testing and inspections before researchers start moving in November. Harry Orr, professor and director of the Institute for Translational Neuroscience , said the building will support about 35 principal investigators, in addition to a steady stream of graduate and postdoctoral students. He said the University will probably be recruiting about half a dozen new principal investigators to work in the facility. An added feature of the MBB will be its proximity to the soon-to-be-expanded Center for Magnetic Resonance Research and several other new medical research facilities the University is planning to build in the area. The middle floors of the new research facility all have the same basic floor plan, said UniversityâÄôs project manager Kevin Ross. On the south side of the building are offices for researchers. Trevor Dickie , a representative from Perkins and Will, the architecture firm that designed the building, said a lot of the buildingâÄôs features, such as the floor to ceiling windows, were designed to maximize natural light.

Research in the MBB

Orr said the major goal of the research in the MBB will be to take advances from the basic science labs and move them to clinics for the development of new cures and treatments. At the center for memory research and care, director Kathleen Zahs said the big questions they are looking at are: âÄúWhat are the molecules that trigger AlzheimerâÄôs disease, and then what are the mechanisms once those molecules are formed? How does that lead to brain dysfunction?âÄù âÄúMost AlzheimerâÄôs disease is,âÄù itâÄôs not inherited, Zahs said, but there is a gene linked to the aggregation of something called the amyloid beta peptide, one of the probable causes of AlzheimerâÄôs. Researchers have successfully implanted that gene in mice, and are using the mice to study the mechanisms by which the proteins affect memory and ways to mitigate those effects. This research will continue in the MBB. Mark Jenkins, Distinguished McKnight University Professor, and his colleagues at the Center of Immunology will also be using transgenic mice at the new facility, but they will be trying to understand how vaccines work and how our immune system protects us from infectious disease and cancer. âÄúWe study that in animal models where we can control the genetics of those animals and really try to understand how the basic system works,âÄù Jenkins said. âÄúYou canâÄôt really fix the car unless you understand how the car works when itâÄôs running well.âÄù