Construction of a new research building, which will include space for start-up biotechnology companies, could start in January 2013 at University of Mississippi Medical Center in Fondren. UMC leaders plan to spend $35 million initially on the eight-story shell of the Cancer and Biomedical Science Research Center and plan to finish the ground, first and second-floor interiors of the 220,000 square-foot building. That work should take about 18 months. Contractors would complete additional floors as funds become available. “We have very limited amounts of research space right now,” said Dr. John Hall, UMMC associate vice chancellor for research. “This building will give us space to implement at least part of our strategic plans for research growth. It will help us recruit scientists, expand our research centers and institutes, and develop the Biotechnology Research Park at UMMC.” The new facility will sit just northwest of the Arthur C. Guyton Research Center, across University Drive and in the current Parking Lot 3A.

While it’s too early to know the new building’s design and layout, several tenants already are set. Biotech company incubator space will occupy about 25,000 square feet on one floor. That will mark the first phase of a long-term plan to construct the Mississippi Biotechnology Research Park. The building will also house laboratory animal facilities and UMMC Cancer Institute labs. Hall said administrators will survey space needs of departments and research centers. “Some faculty members are in 1950s space, original buildings that have had no renovations. These facilities aren’t adequate for modern research,” he said, referring to the North Wing of the original Medical Center building that opened in 1955. 

UMMC leaders put plans on hold last year for a Mississippi Biotechnology Research Park project at the old farmers market when Congress swore off federally targeted funds, known as earmarks. The project already had received nearly $20 million in federal earmarks, and UMMC had taken ownership of the farmer’s market property, located at West Street and Woodrow Wilson Avenue. With little likelihood of further federal support, administrators opted to include biotech incubator space in the Cancer and Biomedical Science Research Center, which allowed use of the $20 million for the on-campus building. The Cancer and Biomedical Science Research Center represents just one part of the Medical Center’s long-term plan. Utility work already under way, a new entrance to campus on Lakeland Drive and a parking deck will pave the way for new buildings in the long-term plan.

Source: Jack Mazurak, UMC Public Affairs

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