Reporting Matt Roush
DETROIT — Wayne State University officially broke ground Thursday on a $93 million addition to its life science programs, the Multidisciplinary Biomedical Research Building.
The 200,000-square-foot building will be constructed around an existing 130,000-square-foot 1927 Albert Kahn structure at 6187 Woodward Ave. that formerly housed a Buick-Pontiac dealership.
Wayne State President Allen Gilmour noted that the building will provide a new northern gateway to the Wayne State campus, since it’s farther north on Woodward than anything else prominently displaying the Wayne State logo. And, he noted, that “if anyone wants to put their name on the building, that can be arranged,” presumably with a huge contribution.
The MBRB will provide space for about 500 researchers and staff and 68 principal investigators. It will include wet and dry laboratories, faculty offices and common areas, as well as clinical space.
Faculty members from across the university will populate the MBRB. The School of Medicine, the College of Engineering, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the School of Social Work, and the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences will conduct research at the facility. Ninety-three percent of the structure will be occupied by Wayne State University, with the remaining 7 percent housing partners from the Henry Ford Health System, including its bone and joint research program and biomechanics motion laboratory.
It will be Wayne State’s first new biomedical research facility since the opening of the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences building in 2002 and the first since 1998 with accommodations for researchers from the School of Medicine.
Research in the MBRB will be arranged into thematic areas — cardiovascular disease; metabolic disorders such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity; systems biology; biomedical engineering; bioinformatics and computational biology; and translational behavioral science.
A wide variety of Detroit dignitaries offered comments on the new building under a spectacular sunny sky and unseasonably warm temperatures in the upper 70s.
“This groundbreaking makes it clear that the premier urban research community in the country is Wayne State,” said U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke, D-Detroit. “This building will be a magnet for federal research dollars that are going to save lives and create jobs here.”
Sylvie Naar-King, a professor and pediatric obesity researcher at the Wayne State School of Medicine, said the new building will allow better collaboration among researchers that are now in scattered buildings.
And Detroit Mayor David Bing said the building was “an important point as Detroit transitions from manufacturing to eds and meds,” a reference to educational and medical employment.