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Jan. 19, 2006
Contact: Kevin Boatright, KU Center for Research, (785) 864-7240.

KU receives Regents approval for $20M addition to Structural Biology Center

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas received permission this morning to begin construction on the third and final phase of the Structural Biology Center on its west campus in Lawrence.

The $20 million, 45,000-square-foot addition will extend west from the existing SBC, which is directly southeast of KU’s new Multidisciplinary Research Building. Plans call for construction to begin this spring, with occupancy in April 2007.

“This is another significant investment in research for KU,” said Chancellor Robert Hemenway. “One that enhances our capacity to meet the needs of researchers without using state tax dollars to pay for it.”

As with the MRB, the new project will be financed entirely through bonds issued by the Kansas Development Finance Authority and funded by the KU Center for Research, a nonprofit foundation designed to facilitate and increase research on the Lawrence campus.

“Step by step, we’re continuing to build a strong, modern infrastructure for life sciences research at KU,” said Jim Roberts, vice provost for research. “New lab space in the MRB, and new core research service space in the SBC, gives us the capacity to expand our existing drug discovery and development efforts. This supports everything else we’re doing to advance basic research at KU.”

Rather than scatter expensive, commonly used research instruments and other resources across campus, KU has chosen to locate them centrally and make them easily accessible to researchers in all departments. The new center will be convenient to Simons Bioscience Research Laboratories, the Higuchi Building, Smissman Research Laboratories, McCollum Laboratories and other proposed research facilities on KU’s expanding west campus.

The Phase III building will house KU’s High Throughput Screening lab and the KU Center of Excellence in Chemical Methodologies and Library Development, both of which are now located at 15th Street and Wakarusa Drive in the Life Sciences Research Laboratory, formerly occupied by Oread Laboratories.

The High Throughput Screening Lab provides miniaturized, highly automated analyses of specific cellular targets related to diseases such as cancer. The lab is directed by Qi-Zhuang Ye as a core facility under the $10 million National Institutes of Health Center of Biomedical Research Excellence Program at KU, directed by Gunda Georg, distinguished professor of medicinal chemistry.

Chemical Methodologies and Library Development designs and synthesizes molecular libraries that support the development of new drugs. The lab is directed by Jeff Aube, professor of medicinal chemistry, and was funded in 2003 with a $9.5 million grant from the NIH. The work involves 15 researchers located at KU, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Iowa State University and Deciphera Pharmaceuticals in Lawrence.

Moving these facilities to the new center will free up space in the Life Sciences Research Laboratory for expansion of the Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis, an engineering research center funded at KU in 2003 with a $17 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

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The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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