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UTHealth celebrates opening of Behavioral and Biomedical Sciences Building

BBSB Ribbon Cutting

The doors are now open at the new Behavioral and Biomedical Sciences Building. Cutting the ribbon are (L-R) State Rep. Beverly Woolley; David McPherson, MD, chair, Department of Internal Medicine, UTHealth Medical School; Charles Cox, MD, director of the new Evelyn H. Griffin Stem Cell Therapeutics Research Laboratory; George Stancel, PhD, dean, UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences; Lois Moore BSN,MEd, director of UTHealth Harris County Psychiatric Center; Jack Smith, MD, PhD, dean, UTHealth School of Biomedical Informatics; Evelyn Griffin; Peter Davies, MD, PhD, provost and executive vice president for research, UTHealth; Larry R. Kaiser, MD, president, UTHealth; Janiece Longoria, regent, UT System; James T. Willerson, MD, president, Texas Heart Institute and former UTHealth president; Kevin Dillon, MBA, executive vice president, chief operating and financial officer, UTHealth; Giuseppe Colasurdo, MD, dean, UTHealth Medical School; Kevin Lally, MD, chair, Department of Pediatric Surgery; Patricia Starck, DSN, RN, dean, UTHealth School of Nursing; John Valenza, DDS, interim dean, UTHealth Dental Branch; and Jair Soares, MD, chair, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) celebrated the opening of its Behavioral and Biomedical Sciences Building at 1941 East Road on the South Campus in February 2010.

The 153,000-square-foot facility, the first UTHealth building to be completed in The University of Texas Research Park Complex, brings together faculty and students working in the behavioral and psychiatric sciences, biomedical informatics, dental research and stem cell research. The $74 million, six-story building will include a state-of-the-art regenerative medicine program. It also will house clinical research programs in psychiatry and outpatient clinics offering assessments and specialized care for patients with autism, mood and anxiety disorders, alcohol and substance use problems and other psychiatric disorders.

“This is an historic day for the university,” said UTHealth President Larry R. Kaiser, MD, “The Behavioral and Biomedical Sciences Building is the anchor tenant for our developing campus, and it will be a hub of cutting-edge research, education and clinical services.”

Mrs. Griffin is pictured with Kevin Lally, MD and laboratory director Charles Cox, MD

Thanks to the generosity and vision of Mrs. Evelyn Griffin, the Evelyn H. Griffin Stem Cell Therapeutics Research Laboratory is now open. Mrs. Griffin is pictured here with Kevin Lally, MD and laboratory director Charles Cox, MD.

Kaiser gave a special recognition to State Rep. Beverly Woolley, who in numerous regular and special sessions of the Texas Legislature fought for funding for the Behavioral and Biomedical Sciences Building. “We would not be standing here today if Representative Woolley had not filed for and strongly supported — through all negotiations — $40 million in funding for this building,” stated Kaiser.

Peter J. Davies, MD, PhD, provost and executive vice president for research, said the building is uniquely designed to foster interdisciplinary and thematic research programs while enhancing clinical care. It will connect to the Center for Advanced Biomedical Imaging Research (CABIR), a collaboration between The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and UTHealth and in cooperation with GE Healthcare and the Texas Enterprise Fund. The Behavioral and Biomedical Sciences Building also will be connected to the new home of The University of Texas Dental Branch at Houston, part of UTHealth, which is expected to open in 2012.

“Combined, these facilities will serve as a nucleus for enormous progress in the understanding of diseases and the development of therapies,” Davies said.

Moving from the Mental Sciences Institute at 1300 Moursund, the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences occupies the Behavioral and Biomedical Sciences Building’s first three floors.

“This move allows us to embrace more extensive research collaborations, develop new outpatient programs and improve existing programs,” said Jair Soares, MD, professor and chairman of the department, co-director of the Center of Excellence on Mood Disorders and executive director of the UTHealth Harris County Psychiatric Center (HCPC). “We will be able to best serve the community by improving access to top-notch assessments, treatments and clinical trials. We also will be able to more fully integrate our outpatient services with the inpatient services we provide at HCPC, which is located less than two miles away.”

Soares said the imaging technology housed at CABIR will boost his department’s research enterprise. A unique partnership with UTHealth’s School of Biomedical Informatics and its Center for Cognitive Informatics and Decision Making will further enhance research and clinical care, he added.

During the ribbon-cutting celebration, the Evelyn H. Griffin Stem Cell Therapeutics Research Laboratory was dedicated. “This state-of-the-art facility, established with a generous gift from Evelyn Griffin, is designed for the production of clinical-grade materials, including adult stem cells,” said Bruce D. Butler, PhD, vice president for research and technology. “It will allow us to expand on new clinical opportunities.”

Charles S. Cox, Jr., MD, the Children’s Fund, Inc. Distinguished Professor of Pediatric Surgery at UTHealth Medical School and director of the pediatric trauma program at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, will direct the regenerative medicine program housed in the Griffin Lab.

“This represents a new capability for UTHealth. The Griffin Lab will be integrated with another facility that is coming online at the medical school, and with these facilities we will be able to meet the increased demand for the production of clinical-grade biological products, including stem cell therapeutics,” Cox said. “We have a number of clinical trials already in the pipeline, and these facilities will allow us to expand that number and develop effective therapies for traumatic brain injury, stroke, heart failure, inflammatory bowel disease and other diseases and injuries.”

In addition to the expansion of the regenerative medicine program, the Behavioral and Biomedical Sciences Building will serve as the primary base for current and future Dental Branch research programs.

“Dental research and patient care are our cornerstones for educating oral health professionals and improving the health of Texans,” said John A. Valenza, DDS, interim dean at the UTHealth Dental Branch. “With this new facility and completion of the adjacent dental school building in 2012, a new era for the Dental Branch begins.”

Meredith Raine, Office of Advancement