Yale has entered into a lease at 100 College St. — a 14-story biotechnology facility that formerly housed the headquarters of Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
According to an announcement from Provost Ben Polak on Thursday, the facility will bridge the University’s medical and central campuses and enhance its academic mission. The purchase comes two months after University President Peter Salovey approved the recommendations by the University Science Strategy Committee that called for the creation of five new institutes, including one dedicated to neuroscience and one to inflammation science.
But the makeup of the labs and the type of research that will be conducted in the College St. facility remain unclear. According to Vice Provost for Research Peter Schiffer, the building will house programs that are prioritized in the USSC report.
“While there have been a number of discussions regarding the programming of 100 College, these discussions are still in the early stages,” Schiffer said. “The building has opportunities for many different activities, including laboratory research. The general approach will be to include programs from the medical school, FAS and other schools, to take advantage of these opportunities.”
Since Alexion announced that it planned to leave its New Haven headquarters in Sept. 2017, the future of the building has remained uncertain. Bruce Alexander ’65, the former Yale vice president for New Haven and state affairs, told the News last year that Yale was originally interested in using some of Alexion’s laboratory space but backed down when the company said it planned to use the entire building for its operations. But when the News asked if Yale would acquire the building to house the Yale Neuroscience Institute after the USSC report was released in June, Sreeganga Chandra, the School of Medicine’s deputy chair for neuroscience, said that it was still up in the air.
The Yale Neuroscience Institute, once created, will bring together the University’s various neuroscience faculty and their facilities, which are currently spread across campus. According to Marina Picciotto, a School of Medicine professor who was one of over 100 faculty members interviewed by the USSC for its report, the new institute will facilitate cross-department collaboration on neuroscience research.
“[The institute] will be an agora — a meeting place where people with common interests talk together, work together and have meetings together,” she said.
The USSC’s report recommended that the University house the neuroscience institute between the medical and central campuses. It is unclear if it will occupy the Alexion building, or to what extent it will become affiliated with the space.
According to the criteria outlined in the USSC report, the home of the neuroscience institute must include enough space to accommodate 35 to 40 laboratories, as well as meeting spaces and animal housing facilities.
“I think [the neuroscience institute] would really set us apart from other schools and ease the path for the open, collaborative environment this field thrives on,” said Leah Fleming GRD ’22, a student in the interdepartmental neuroscience program. “Having a central, physical space would allow more members of the community from the medical campus, Science Hill and psychology buildings to participate in neuroscience-related events and seminars.”
Though Alexion has decided to relocate its headquarters, it will continue to lease half of the current 513,000-square-foot building, which will be occupied by approximately 450 employees.
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