With goal of collaboration, stem cell facility unveiled

Yale School of Medicine opened the door to cutting-edge cardiovascular, immunology and stem cell research with the introduction of a new research building Friday.

Yale celebrated the opening of the research facility at 10 Amistad Street with a symposium and a ribbon-cutting ceremony last week. The building will provide a home for three new programs — Interdepartmental Program in Vascular Biology and Therapeutics, Human and Translational Immunology Program and Yale Stem Cell Center.

The 120,000-square-foot, four-story building cost $85 million and is one of five new science buildings constructed in the last four years. At the turn of the century, Yale decided to invest $1 billion in science facilities, making a serious commitment to furthering Yale’s science departments, Yale President Richard Levin said.

“The building is a consequential and important addition to science and the stature of science at Yale,” he said.

The creation of the building is aimed at encouraging interdepartmental collaboration, School of Medicine Dean Robert Alpern said. He said having different fields working side by side in a new research space will help push Yale into the foreground of the interdisciplinary science movement.

Matthew Renda, an associate research scientist who has worked in the building since September, said the building fosters an important communal atmosphere among the scientists.

“It’s nice to have different specialities in one area,” he said. “It’s easier for collaboration.”

The building is expected to benefit the School of Medicine as well as the Yale community as a whole. Once the building is fully occupied, it will house 300 researchers, including undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students. Levin said the new programs in the building will open up the opportunity for the University to bring in more new talent to collaborate with current scientists.

The inaugural ceremony, attended by representatives from the state of Connecticut, emphasized that the new research building will have effects beyond the immediate Yale community — in their speeches, both Levin and Alpern highlighted the benefit the building will have for greater New Haven.

“The building will extend the medical school’s footprint in the neighborhood by contributing to the biological science capability of New Haven,” Levin said.

But some researchers said the physical distance between the building and the main medical school campus is a cause for concern.

Weijun Pan, a researcher in pharmacology, said despite the size of the new building, it does not have as much room for supplies or equipment as do the older facilities on the main medical school campus. He said because the building is so far away, borrowing supplies is not a feasible solution.

“We have no stock rooms, so we have to make frequent trips to the main medical school,” he said. “It’s OK now, but we are not looking forward to winter.”

The symposium that preceded the ribbon cutting ceremony attracted a diverse audience of undergraduate, graduate and post doctoral students, and medical school professors, as well as the donors for the new building. Entitled “Frontiers in Translational and Regenerative Medicine,” the event included lectures by three world-renowned professors — Salvaldor Moncada from the University College in London, Marc Feldmann from the Imperial College in London and Douglas Melton of Harvard.

Students at the symposium, like Jennifer Przybylo ’08, said they were inspired by the innovative material covered in all three talks and impressed by the way the speakers made science accessible to a wider audience.

“One of the true marks of brilliance of great minds is the ability to take something really complicated and turn it into digestible fragments for the laymen,” Przybylo said.

Yale Provost Andrew Hamilton said the building has an environmentally friendly design and is expected to be awarded gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design status.

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