UT Health Science Center Cancer Research Center, $21,000,000
101,000-sf, four-story medical sciences research facility for the University of Tennessee College of Medicine. The new facility, to include laboratory and office space for 36 reasearchers and their support staff, in-house conferencing and library rooms, and meeting space.
Research Center Next On UTHSC Building Agenda
TOM WILEMON | The Daily News
OPEN SITE: The translational research building for the University of Tennessee Health Science Center will be built on a vacant lot south of the Cancer Research Center and linked to that building with an elevated walkway. -- PHOTO BY TOM WILEMON
A center where scientists from different fields of medical research can share ideas toward common goals will be the next new building slated for construction on the University of Tennessee Health Science Center campus. The university on Thursday will ask the Tennessee State Building Commission’s blessing to proceed with the $49 million translational research building project on a vacant lot at the northwest corner of Union Avenue and Manassas Street. Construction could begin as early as next year. “In relatively short order, we hope we have the proverbial green light to move forward with that project,” said Kennard Brown, UTHSC executive vice chancellor and chief of staff.
Next in line
UTHSC received the blessing last year from the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees to fund the project with state bonds. Trustees also approved using bond money for a new clinical building, which will be next in the construction lineup. The buildings will be the second and third projects following the $49.6 million College of Pharmacy, which is already under construction. In total, UTHSC’s goal is to invest between $160 million and $200 million in campus upgrades as part of a five-year plan. The translational research building will be connected by an elevated walkway to the Cancer Research Building, which opened in 2007. “What we want to do is kind of model it after the Cancer Research Building,” Brown said. “It will be kind of thematically designed, where we’re not going to put a particular department of basic scientists in there. We’re going to build it around three major research themes: cardiovascular and neurological diseases and then some infectious diseases. We will have science investigators from departments like physiology, pharmacology and from the department of medicine. It’s not going to be one particular unit of investigators in there. It will be a multidisciplinary open laboratory shared space.” In the cancer research building, interested collaborative efforts under this model have included dentists working with pathologists on oral cancer investigations, Brown said. The five-year plan calls for adding another 100,000 square feet of research space. “To recruit world-class scientists to come to Memphis to research cardiovascular disease or do neurological research, you need those kinds of facilities that people can practice their craft in,” Brown said. “For a basic scientist, it doesn’t matter how much compensation you offer them. The first question they have is, ‘Where’s my laboratory?’ For people to do world-class research, you really need state-of-the-art world-class facilities.”
With the new clinical building, the campus will see a dramatic increase in clinical space going from 5,000 square feet to 150,000 square feet. The university’s plan is to put the new clinical building at the southeast corner of Dunlap Street and Union behind the Scottish Rite of Freemasons building. The university is seeking to acquire property related to this project. Some old buildings on campus will be demolished to make room for the changes, including the Beale, Randolph and Feurt buildings. “Randolph at the corner of Madison and Manassas is basically off line,” Brown said. “We have for all intents and purposes shut it down. No utilities. I think to the casual observer who drives by that building it looks like a pretty structurally sound building that’s there. But it is empty, has no power and we’ve got demolition plans for it.” The UTHSC will have to wait on state funding for other components of the building plan, including renovations for office space, an educational annex and a new student center. Before state bonds will be issued for the translational research building and the clinical building, UTHSC must present business plans for how it can pay the debt obligations. It will rely on federal research grants for the translational building. The debt service on that building is expected to be about $4 million a year. The university is still developing a business model for the clinical building. “For the clinical facility, it’s a little more complicated dynamic,” Brown said. “We’re being very, very deliberative and trying to be conservative in modeling before we go to the commission.”