UC Irvine to Add $50 Million Health Science Facility, the Campus’s Largest Research Center
Monday, September 20, 2021
Adding to a “health sciences district” taking shape on the southwest side of campus, UC Irvine announced it will build a new 200,0000-square-foot facility for collaborative research on cancer, neuroscience, regenerative medicine, and other specialties.
Called the Falling Leaves Foundation Medical Innovation Building, it will be the largest research building on campus and one of the largest in the western U.S., UCI officials said. It will be funded by a $30 million donation from the Huntington Beach-based foundation of the same name and $20 million in other private contributions.
The new facility will offer research lab and teaching spaces where experts from around the UCI campus and across health disciplines can work together on medical innovations in areas including regenerative medicine, biotechnology and precision diagnosis and treatment, UCI Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs Steve Goldstein said.
The idea is to “bring together experts from each of the disciplines so we can push forward more rapidly discoveries that change people’s lives,” he said, adding, “we need this space because we’re pushing at the seams of our current space.”
UCI has continued to expand its health-related fields, both in academia – the multi-building $185 million Samueli College of Health Sciences is set to open next June – and in patient care, with the $1 billion medical complex including a hospital that was announced in January.
The medical center site is about a mile – an easy bike ride, Goldstein said – from the health sciences district the Falling Leaves building will join.
The new and expanded UCI facilities will help further Irvine’s claim to being the county’s hub of medical research and care. Last fall, Hoag Hospital announced a major expansion of its Sand Canyon campus, City of Hope is working on a $1 billion cancer treatment and research campus next to the Great Park, and a number of drug and medical device companies such as Allergan and Edwards Lifesciences are headquartered in the city.
The nonprofit Falling Leaves Foundation was established by Robert Mah, a UCLA professor emeritus whose research led to two species of archaebacteria being named in his honor, and Dr. Adeline Yen Mah, an internist and anesthesiologist.
Medical science is “at the dawn of a therapeutic revolution,” Dr. Mah said in a news release, and UCI’s new research facility will contribute to its advancement.
“Successful collaboration is helped greatly by physical proximity,” she said. “We were impressed by the many sprawling, open workspaces in UCI’s Innovation Building, where scientists will interact with one another and exchange ideas. It gives us enormous satisfaction to imagine the possibility of brilliant young minds working together and bringing concepts to fruition, some as a result of serendipitous encounters in the building’s atrium, coffee shops and numerous scattered seating areas.”
Goldstein said the building should be ready to open within three to four years.
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