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Gov. Deval Patrick announces $95 million for UMass Life Sciences Building

  • Governor Deval Patrick visited the University of Masschusetts Amherst on June 6, 2013 for the announcement of $100 million in grants being given to the university's life-sciences studies and projects. The grants are possible because of Governor Patrick's Massachusetts Life Sciences Initiative.<br/>AYRIKA WHITNEY

    Governor Deval Patrick visited the University of Masschusetts Amherst on June 6, 2013 for the announcement of $100 million in grants being given to the university's life-sciences studies and projects. The grants are possible because of Governor Patrick's Massachusetts Life Sciences Initiative.
    AYRIKA WHITNEY Purchase photo reprints »

  • (From left to right) University of Massachusetts Amherst's capital projects manager Jeff Quackenbush gives a tour of the facilities to Henry Thomas, Board of Trustees president; Massachusetts State Senate Majority Leader, Stan Rosenberg; University of Massachusetts Amherst Chancellor, Kumble Subbaswamy; and State Representative, Denise Andrews on June 6, 2013. The university just announced its life-sciences department would be receiving $100 million in grants for projects.<br/>AYRIKA WHITNEY

    (From left to right) University of Massachusetts Amherst's capital projects manager Jeff Quackenbush gives a tour of the facilities to Henry Thomas, Board of Trustees president; Massachusetts State Senate Majority Leader, Stan Rosenberg; University of Massachusetts Amherst Chancellor, Kumble Subbaswamy; and State Representative, Denise Andrews on June 6, 2013. The university just announced its life-sciences department would be receiving $100 million in grants for projects.
    AYRIKA WHITNEY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Special to The Recorder<br/>Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Kumble Subbaswamy, and Massachusetts State Senate Majority Leader Stan Rosenburg laugh together during a tour of the campus' life-sciences facilities on Thursday. The campus announced it will be receiving $100 million in grants for its life-sciences projects.<br/>

    Special to The Recorder
    Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Kumble Subbaswamy, and Massachusetts State Senate Majority Leader Stan Rosenburg laugh together during a tour of the campus' life-sciences facilities on Thursday. The campus announced it will be receiving $100 million in grants for its life-sciences projects.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • Massachusetts State Representative Ellen Story speaks at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on June 6, 2013. The university announced that its life-sciences department was receiving more than $100 million in grants. <br/>AYRIKA WHITNEY

    Massachusetts State Representative Ellen Story speaks at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on June 6, 2013. The university announced that its life-sciences department was receiving more than $100 million in grants.
    AYRIKA WHITNEY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Governor Deval Patrick visited the University of Masschusetts Amherst on June 6, 2013 for the announcement of $100 million in grants being given to the university's life-sciences studies and projects. The grants are possible because of Governor Patrick's Massachusetts Life Sciences Initiative.<br/>AYRIKA WHITNEY
  • (From left to right) University of Massachusetts Amherst's capital projects manager Jeff Quackenbush gives a tour of the facilities to Henry Thomas, Board of Trustees president; Massachusetts State Senate Majority Leader, Stan Rosenberg; University of Massachusetts Amherst Chancellor, Kumble Subbaswamy; and State Representative, Denise Andrews on June 6, 2013. The university just announced its life-sciences department would be receiving $100 million in grants for projects.<br/>AYRIKA WHITNEY
  • Special to The Recorder<br/>Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Kumble Subbaswamy, and Massachusetts State Senate Majority Leader Stan Rosenburg laugh together during a tour of the campus' life-sciences facilities on Thursday. The campus announced it will be receiving $100 million in grants for its life-sciences projects.<br/>
  • Massachusetts State Representative Ellen Story speaks at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on June 6, 2013. The university announced that its life-sciences department was receiving more than $100 million in grants. <br/>AYRIKA WHITNEY

With the $167 million Life Sciences Building opening this summer after four years of construction, an investment of $95 million from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center to purchase equipment and outfit facilities inside the building will provide a bridge between the science and the resulting economic development.

“Massachusetts is now without dispute the world’s leading supercluster in the life sciences,” said Gov. Deval Patrick during a stop at UMass on Thursday to announce the state investment. “No one else can touch us.”

At the personalized health monitoring center that will be part of the Life Sciences Building, the idea is to design, create and build personalized health sensors of all kinds, such as for diabetes and cardiovascular illness, said department of kinesiology chairwoman and professor Patty Freedson. These wearable monitors can help analyze patient data continuously, Freedson said.

The space in the new building will bring companies that make devices and other health-care industry professionals to the center to determine how accurate these devices are, how subjects handle wearing them and how best to get them made and in use.

“This kind of center will be a great catalyst to industry with basic and applied research,” Freedson said. “The industry partners will have dedicated space to work with the scientists.”

Other new research centers that will be part of the Life Sciences Building are models to medicine, where basic protein research will develop new therapeutic targets, and bioactive delivery, focused on a variety of ways of applying new drugs, such as developing synthetic molecules that can fight infection.

Lila Gierasch, a professor of biochemistry, molecular biology and chemistry, said her team has done significant research into “protein misfolding” diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and cystic fibrosis.

Barbara Osborne, director of the molecular and cell biology graduate program and professor of animal veterinary science, said she is working with Gierasch’s team to study molecular pathways and improve drug delivery by targeting particular cells at particular times.

Being in the new building will help develop these partnerships, both between departments and with companies outside the university, such as those involved in the pharmaceutical industry.

Translating the work of the scientific community at UMass to the needs of the industry is explicit in the goals of the state providing the $95 million, Patrick told the group that gathered in the Thatcher Way building Thursday. He said the state investment is about bringing innovations in the laboratory directly to the bedside of patients.

The money will go toward completing the interior shell and installing equipment in half of the 310,000-square-foot Life Sciences Building. Half of the building will be ready for occupancy this summer, while the other half will be completed over the next two years.

“We have to be about shaping our own future,” Patrick said. “Education, innovation and infrastructure is a winning strategy.”

An additional $5.5 million will go to the Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute, a joint venture of Baystate Medical Center in Springfield and UMass.

UMass Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy called the Life Sciences Building a “powerful platform for faculty and students” that should benefit western Massachusetts by recruiting the best and brightest in their fields.

“It has the potential for significant sustained economic impact on western Massachusetts,” Subbaswamy said.

The money came from a proposal submitted to the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center which was created in 2008 by the Legislature and approved by Patrick. The center is charged with investing $1 billion over 10 years into the state’s life sciences supercluster.

Susan Windham-Bannister, president and CEO of the Life Sciences Center, said, “Our investments here are great examples of the center’s strategies, more importantly examples of necessary public-private partnerships to execute that strategy.”

State Sen. Stanley C. Rosenberg, D-Amherst said he appreciates that 75 percent of the cost of the Life Sciences Building came from the state. “That is a phenomenal investment,” he said.

And state Rep. Ellen Story, D-Amherst, called it a “glorious, glorious day” and suggested she could have chosen another event to attend, but came to UMass because of the amount of money awarded. “When the university gets $100 million, I’ll always show up,” she said.

Legacy Comments1

It appears that not a penny of this money is going to go to the agriculture portion of “life sciences” at UMass. This is sad because 150 years after the founding of this land-grant institution, the funding continues to get whittled away from anything to do with “Mass Aggie.” Contrast that with the University of Connecticut to our south which not only proudly keeps its ag school name (Ratcliffe Hicks College of Agriculture) but is investing millions in new buildings, facilities and research farms on the Storrs campus.

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