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At New Research Park, Collaboration Will Be Name of the Game
As the planning and construction continues at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston's Research Park at the intersection of Cambridge Street and East Road, it's becoming clear that the new campus will more than live up to its name.
The complex will be home to three independent programs - the new Dental Branch, the Neuroscience Program and the Biomedical Research and Education Facility (BREF). The area also will include the Center for Advanced Biomedical Imaging Research (CABIR), a collaborative effort between UT M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and the health science center, in cooperation with GE Healthcare and the Texas Enterprise Fund. Each of the structures will include features that will put the faculty members they will house on the cutting edge of research.
"The new research facilities are centered around the concept of providing facilities particularly focused on the translation of basic research discoveries into their clinical application in man," said Peter Davies, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president for research for the health science center and faculty member at The UT Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.
The new Dental Branch building will enable the school to increase class size from the current 84 to 100 students, offer advanced clinical and clinical simulation facilities, along with classrooms and learning spaces equipped with up-to-the minute technologies and learning systems. It will offer improved access for patients.
"We want to be known for the quality of our patient care, the impact of our research and the caliber of our graduates," said Catherine Flaitz, D.D.S., dean of the UT Dental Branch. "A new building will help us attract the best and brightest students and faculty. It will help us deliver a high-quality educational experience for our students as we work on our most important mission-educating dental professionals to deliver competent, compassionate and contemporary care." Funds supporting the building are being provided by the Dental Branch's "Open to Health" fundraising campaign.
The new Dental Branch's neighbor at the Research Park, the Neurosciences/ BREF Building, will be split between research into neuropsychiatric research programs on the first three floors and biomedical research and educational facilities on the top three floors. "Research within this facility will include a major emphasis on how new technologies of human genetics and advanced imaging can be combined with clinical psychiatry and neurology to create a new level of understanding of the underlying causes to many devastating psychiatric and neurological diseases," explained Davies. "By bringing together researchers interested in neuropsychiatric disease with start-of-the-art imaging and laboratory facilities, the new campus will serve as a nucleus for enormous progress in the understanding of these diseases and the development of therapies."
Other major areas targeted for development at the Research Park are regenerative medicine, biomaterials and reconstructive medicine. Scientists are learning how to harness the power of stem cells and biomaterials research to develop new approaches to the replacement of damaged cells and organs as well as the reconstruction of complex tissues and organs, and the BREF will offer them a facility in which they can continue their work.
"There are great opportunities to develop new therapies for the treatment of devastating illnesses such as stroke and traumatic brain injury, the repair of damaged hearts and the reconstruction of complex structures such as the jaw and face," Davies said.
The CABIR will offer multi-technology translational imaging, synthetic and analytical chemistry laboratories, and production of clinical-grade imaging agents for faculty at both the health science center and UT M. D. Anderson.
The CABIR also will house The University of Texas Department of Biomedical Engineering, which will bring together scientists, engineers and students with a common interest in the development of advanced imaging technologies for the diagnosis and treatment of disease. The work of this group will particularly focus on how to use technology in areas of cardiovascular research, diseases of the brain and the nervous system and the detection and treatment of many forms of cancer.
"The synergy created by the CABIR facility and the Research Park will enable scientists and engineers to work together and accelerate the development of new technologies," explained Davies. "Our goal is to bring together some of the most talented scientists and biomedical engineers in an environment that will foster collaboration." The Research Park development follows on the heels of the opening of the new research facility adjacent to the UT Medical School at Houston, which features open and shared research space designed to inspire collaboration.
The new research space is home to scientists studying infectious diseases, stem cells and regenerative medicine, neurosciences and genetic disorders, along with other research. It also will be the home for the John S. Dunn Gulf Coast Consortium for Chemical Genomics' high throughput screening lab.
By Shannon Rasp