As the centerpiece of the University’s master plan, the $78 million life sciences building is designed to launch a new era in scientific research at UAlbany by providing the state-of-the-art space and facilities needed to support collaborative, cutting-edge research.
"More than just bricks and mortar, the building will be a catalyst for bringing UAlbany’s research efforts to a higher level of national prominence by attracting world-class scientists who bring with them a well-known reputation and productive research enterprise," says David Shub, professor and chair, Department of Biological Sciences.
The master planning process was driven by the recognition that the University had outgrown its physical facilities and was limited by aging and outmoded research space. With 180,000 square feet of space, the new facility, located adjacent to the current Biology Building and scheduled for completion in 2005, provides the strategic foundation for growing the University’s research enterprise and opportunities for graduate education, especially in the areas of biology and genomics.
"Competitive research universities must offer students access to cutting-edge life sciences curricula and research experiences and these require proper facilities," notes Christopher D’Elia, the University’s vice president for re search. "Our new building is designed to be easily adapted to the unforeseeable twists and turns of scientific research and to encourage the cross-pollination of research among groups."
Deliberately designed with flexible generic laboratory space, the building will ultimately house 39 research groups from a variety of life science disciplines, rather than serve as a home for any particular department. Researchers from departments such as psychology, biology, and chemistry, who are working in areas related to the life sciences, will share the building.
The aim of the interdisciplinary research space is to provide an environment that fosters creativity and synergy among researchers who otherwise might not have the opportunity to interact. Throughout the building, laboratory spaces are linked by shared equipment rooms that further encourage both formal and informal interaction between research groups.
Many core technologies that are critical for supporting research across the spectrum of disciplines will be located in the building. These include imaging, tissue culture, x-ray crystallography, bioinformatics and molecular modeling, a greenhouse, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. While some core technologies will be new to the UAlbany campus, others involve enhancement and consolidation of current services.
One highlight of the building will be a 3,000-square-foot module that will house three principal investigators and a fermentation facility, funded by a $619,855 grant from the National Institutes of Health. The fermentation facility will allow researchers to grow the large amounts of yeast and bacterial cells that are needed to purify individual enzymes and protein complexes on a large scale.
Research conducted in the new facility is expected to fall into one of four primary areas:
- Transgenesis and genetic manipulation
- Structural analysis of proteins and DNA
- Function of biomolecules at cellular and organismal levels
- Population genetics, molecular evolution, and behavior.
While the new facility is certain to strengthen research efforts by faculty, it will also expand opportunities for attracting and training top graduate students — future scientists who will depend upon an education that is well grounded in the latest research technologies, Shub says. The new facility will also free existing space for renovation of undergraduate teaching facilities.
State funds will cover $65 million of the overall $78 million cost of the project, and the University is planning a campaign to raise the remainder. The University is seeking additional federal support, such as the NIH grant, to finance specialized facilities in the building, and will also be seeking support from corporate sponsors and individuals.
Northland Associates of Syracuse is the contractor for the building and The Hillier Group of New York City is the architect.
Photo Tour of New Life Sciences Building Site