U officials unveil 37M medical esearch facility

Jerret Raffety

University officials opened a new $37 million research facility Tuesday, where researchers will study global health threats such as tuberculosis, HIV, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease and spinal cord injury.

Approximately 250 people attended a dedication ceremony for the new McGuire Translational Research Facility, which will be used by the Academic Health Center.

Frank Cerra, the Academic Health Center’s senior vice president, said the new facility is devoted to research that connects basic science and medical therapies for medical conditions and diseases.

“What health science is, is to take new ideas and use them to prevent or treat diseases and medical conditions including methods of care delivery and evaluations of outcomes,” Cerra said. “We now have a structure where scientists can take the newest research and apply it.”

The ceremony included tours of the new building, an opportunity to contribute notes to a time capsule that will be opened in 100 years and a speech from Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

The building is named for William McGuire and Nadine McGuire, who gave $10 million to the project from their foundation. The state contributed $24.8 million and the College of Pharmacy added $2.2 million for construction.

William McGuire said the facility will do more than accommodate research.

“When an institution is able to create an environment built around great experiences, it will be able to attract more high-quality graduate students and researchers and sets in motion an enhanced set of opportunities for people,” William McGuire said.

University President Bob Bruininks said the new facility will help make the University one of the top three public research institutions in the world.

“The ‘U of M’ is the state’s finest research and educational institution and now has a facility for improving the human condition and quality of life,” Bruininks said. “The work that will happen here will take revolutionary work in genetic and cell biology and will translate these discoveries into treatments that will cure diseases like diabetes, which affects 5 percent of the nation’s population.”

The new facility will house interdisciplinary research from the Stem Cell Institute, the College of Pharmacy’s Orphan Drug Center, the Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy, and others.

Cerra said the new facility needed to go to the State Legislature twice to get state funding.

The first time the building proposal went to the Legislature in 2002, it passed the House and Senate but was vetoed by former Gov. Jesse Ventura. Pawlenty approved state funding for the project in 2003.

The new building is a 96,000-square-foot, four-story addition to the east side of the Lions Research Building, which was built in 1991. Construction on the facility began in fall of 2003.

The new facility will have space for 33 new clinician scientists and approximately 600 employees who will perform translational research.