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UMass Chan Medical School has received approval from the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees for a project that will change the face of the Worcester campus and accelerate research into new therapeutics for some of the most challenging diseases that humans face. A new, nine-story biomedical research and education facility will be built on campus to support laboratory research growth and the educational enterprise.

The new building, which will be located between the Lazare Research Building and the Albert Sherman Center, will include program space for a projected 77 principal investigators, in addition to animal medicine facilities. It will also permit campus expansion of facilities to help meet the needs of the commonwealth and the nation for physicians, graduate nurses, life sciences researchers and other health sciences professionals.

Consistent with recommendations from the Association of American Medical Colleges that medical schools identify ways of helping meet the growing physician shortage, this additional space on campus will help UMass Chan expand class size to meet growing workforce needs in the health sciences.

The 350,000-square-foot structure will complete the west face of the Campus Green and require the removal of a portion of the First Road garage. The new building will connect with the LRB and the ASC on the second level and below grade. The target will be a LEED Gold building with aspirations to a net zero energy use.

“The new education and research building plays a key role in the future of our institution, as outlined in our strategic plan,” said Chancellor Michael F. Collins. “By co-locating strategic research programs and leveraging the power of collaboration, we will be able to fulfill our vision of life-changing therapies for some of the most intractable diseases we face.”

Initial plans call for the co-location of the Horae Gene Therapy Center, the Departments of Neurology and Neurobiology, the Program in Molecular Medicine and the new Program in Human Genetics & Evolutionary Biology.

“New synergies among these programs will enable us to make strides in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and neurodegenerative diseases,” said Terence R. Flotte, MD, the Celia and Isaac Haidak Professor, executive deputy chancellor, provost and dean of the School of Medicine. Co-location of these departments and programs will open up space for more than 30 laboratories in the LRB and ASC. The relocation of molecular medicine will mean Biotech II can be leased to companies seeking space in the UMass Chan Science Park.

“If our experience during this pandemic has taught us anything, it is that the health of our region and indeed, public health around the world, will be ever more dependent on innovative and well-funded biomedical research,” said Chancellor Collins. “From the earliest days of the pandemic, dozens of scientists on this campus pivoted to work on identifying vulnerabilities in the novel coronavirus and researching approaches to vaccines and therapies. UMass Chan Medical School is a vital resource and key center for research and our growth and development will support many future discoveries and therapies for new and devastating diseases like COVID-19.”

“Some may be surprised to learn that UMass Chan Medical School actually increased its funded research during the pandemic,” said Dr. Flotte. “But we were not surprised at all. The gifted research community here is deeply committed to advancing our efforts to cure disease and alleviate suffering. Their ability to quickly adapt and adjust to challenging circumstances is emblematic of their devotion. We are committed to continuing to grow our research community to meet new challenges and advance the extraordinary progress we are making in finding cures for disease.”