$75 million development could make UAB a global leader in biotech field

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Rendering courtesy of UA System, via Birmingham Business Journal (BBJ)

A $75 million project at UAB that could have a major impact on Birmingham is moving forward. This genomic medicine + research center is well on its way to fruition, and we’ve got all the details here. Check it out!

The Project

Photo courtesy of @nci on Unsplash

The Altec Styslinger Genomic Medicine and Data Sciences Facility may be a mouthful, but a project of this size deserves a name to match. The 145,000 square-foot facility has the potential to establish Birmingham as a leader in a growing industry.

“What happens inside the Altec Styslinger Genomic Medicine and Data Sciences Facility will help chart the future course of health care.”

UAB Magazine

Earlier this month, the UA System Board released their meeting agenda with an item to “consider the resolution approving the revised project scope and budget and proposed architectural design” for the facility.

According to the BBJ, the resolution passed Stage III approval, which will allow the design and bidding of the project to proceed—although final Stage IV approval is still required at a future meeting.

Current plans would include the renovation and expansion of the Lyons Harrison Research Building at 701 19th Street South. The development would also involve demolishing the adjacent Pittman Center for Advanced Medical Studies Building and the Kracke Building.

The Field of Study

Photo courtesy of @cdc on Unsplash

Let’s talk about genomic medicine. It’s probably not something you learned about in school. Think about it this way—everything we have these days is personalized, from our streaming subscriptions to our social media ads. Why not our healthcare?

Many experts call genomic medicine “personalized medicine.” There are basically infinite applications, but the end goal is the same: improving overall health through personalized care based on our specific genome. If you’re looking for a more scientific definition, here’s one from the experts:

“Genomic medicine is an emerging medical discipline that involves using genomic information about an individual as part of their clinical care (e.g. for diagnostic or therapeutic decision-making) and the health outcomes and policy implications of that clinical use.”

National Human Genome Research Institute

The Funding

Photo courtesy of @nci on Unsplash

In May 2019, UAB released an article outlining how the funds from their recent fundraising campaign would be used. The Campaign for UAB was a wildly successful fundraising initiative that crossed the $1 billion threshold in late 2018. Yup, that’s billion with a B.

The money went to support many different aspects of UAB, from medical research to new facilities to athletics. One of the 15 beneficiaries named was the “Genomic Gateway.”

“The renovated space, made possible by a generous gift from the Altec Styslinger Foundation, will house researchers who will use advanced science and technology to seek cutting-edge therapies and pioneer precision medicine.

The facility also will help UAB secure millions of dollars in additional research funding and create hundreds of new jobs.”

UAB Magazine

The BBJ reported that representatives of the UA System said the city of Birmingham and Jefferson County have each committed $5 million to the project, in addition to the gift from the Altec Styslinger Foundation.

A funding request has also been submitted to Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey. Representatives of Ivey said that the request is currently in process.

The Foundation

Lee Styslinger III, one of the owners of the Birmingham Legion, pictured above with Mayor Woodfin. Photo via @LStyslinger on Twitter

The Altec/Styslinger Foundation is a private grantmaking foundation based out of Birmingham. They’ve been in operation for more than 20 years and focus their philanthropic efforts on areas such as arts and culture, education, health associations, human services, children and youth services and more.

Lee Styslinger III is a Birmingham native who has served as the Chairman and CEO of Altec Inc. since 1997. According to Business Roundtable, he serves on several boards of Birmingham giants such as Vulcan Materials Company, Regions Financial Corporation and Children’s Hospital.

Styslinger also sits on the board for Harvard Business School and the Altec/Styslinger Foundation. Their generous donation made the new facility possible as well as granted the foundation the building’s namesake.

The Future

Photo courtesy of UAB Medicine

It’s still in the planning stages, but The Altec Styslinger Genomic Medicine and Data Sciences Facility could have plenty of implications for UAB and Birmingham as a whole. UAB continues to establish itself as a global leader in the world of medical research.

According to Global Market Insights, the Biotechnology Industry is worth more than $400 billion—and it’s growing quickly. By 2025, the global biotechnology market size is expected to top $775 billion.

Becoming a hotspot for genomic medicine and research could draw medical professionals, industry leaders and patients from all over the world.

This renovation is one of several multimillion-dollar projects that have the potential to bring a significant number of jobs to Birmingham. From Lakeshore to Eastwood, our city just keeps on growing.

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Beth Cunningham
A Birmingham transplant who can usually be found hitting a new hiking trail or restaurant opening when she's not writing stories and snapping photos for Bham Now.
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