A ground-breaking ceremony was held today at The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) to announce the construction of the new Altec/Styslinger Genomic Medicine and Data Sciences Building and the Marnix E. Heersink Institute for Biomedical Innovation Conference Center.
Senior leaders from UAB, UAB Medicine, the Heersink School of Medicine, the Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama System, donors, local and state government leaders including Gov. Kay Ivey attended the event. The ceremony was held on the site of the new facility, at Seventh Avenue South, between 19th and 20th Streets, on Birmingham’s Southside.
Iconic Design—Large Footprint
The 175,000-square-foot building features a visible-to-all double-helix design.
The new facility will involve renovation of the existing Lyons-Harrison Research Building, located at 701 19th St. South on the UAB campus. Two buildings—the Kracke Building and the Pittman Center for Advanced Medical Studies—have already been removed to make way for the project, which will include the Marnix E. Heersink Institute for Biomedical Innovation Conference Center.
The Altec/Styslinger building will include space for computational research, research support, offices, administrative and scientific collaboration, and meeting spaces designed to meet the specific needs of genomics and precision medicine investigators and their programs.
Initial initiatives will include cancer research, neuroscience research, rehabilitation medicine and pediatric research, as well as research into the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the new collaborations will include clinicians serving on the front lines of patient care and enhance translational health initiatives already active at UAB.
Funding for the Project
The project is being funded through $50 million from the state of Alabama via the Public School and College Authority—the largest-ever investment from the state in a university facility. An additional $5 million from Jefferson County also supports the project, as do funds supplied by UAB donors Altec/Styslinger Foundation and Marnix and Mary Heersink. The city of Birmingham has also expressed interest in working with other city leaders to support the project.
“This facility, made possible by the foresight and help of our state and local leaders, as well as generous donors, will position UAB and Alabama to be a global leader in precision medicine and genomic sciences, enhancing world-class clinical care for our community and beyond,” said UAB President Ray Watts, M.D. “Advancements in precision medicine, informatics and data sciences will now be accelerated, and we will gain greater understanding of the roles our genes and the environment play in major human diseases. These discoveries will lead to the development of new lifesaving treatments.”
Attracting Jobs and Research Funding
According to UAB, the institution will recruit upward of 75 additional investigators and some 350 new support staff over the next five-plus years to work alongside its present team of researchers. The facility will attract an estimated $100 million in additional research funding annually.
Total project costs are expected to exceed $78 million. Construction is expected to be completed in spring 2024.
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