Major Medical Complex Focusing on Disease Research To Be Built at Top-Ranked Yale University School of Medicine

Yale University announced plans today to construct a major medical research complex in New Haven’s Hill neighborhood to meet a growing need for more space at the top-ranked Yale School of Medicine.

Construction of the $160-million, 440,000-square-foot complex, to be located on Congress Avenue between Cedar Street and Howard Avenue, is scheduled to begin in the late fall and to be completed by the summer of 2002. Payette Associates of Boston, and Venturi Scott Brown and Associates of Philadelphia have been selected as architects.

“This new medical facility is the largest construction project undertaken by the University in several decades. It is the centerpiece of a strategic facilities plan for the Yale School of Medicine resulting from a two-year planning process involving the University, the City and the community,” Yale President Richard C. Levin said.

He noted that this building for disease-oriented research will be nearly three times the size of the Boyer Center for Molecular Medicine, a state-of-the-art building for basic research constructed in 1991 on the opposite side of Congress Avenue.

“Yale University is the City’s largest employer and second largest taxpayer. Accordingly, it’s important to see Yale continue to grow,” said New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. “Equally important is the fact that the University’s tax-exempt properties generate 77 cents for every dollar the City would have received if the property were not tax exempt. That money comes from the State’s Payment in Lieu of Taxes program, which compensates municipalities for property owned by colleges and hospitals within their borders. That program allows the City to embrace Yale’s growth in the appropriate manner.”

Over the past five years, the State’s annual PILOT payment to New Haven has risen from $24 million to $35 million, nearly a 50 percent increase, due largely to increases in the reimbursement rate of the state formula. Not only will the medical complex provide 139,000-square-feet of laboratory space for research, but it will provide state-of-the-art teaching laboratories and classroom space totaling 201,000 square feet, thus enabling the school “to remain at the forefront in medicine, and to recruit and retain the world-class physician-scientists needed to pursue crucial, life-saving research,” Levin said.

Yale School of Medicine Dean David A. Kessler said additional research space has been a long-standing concern among the school’s faculty and administrators, requiring a carefully orchestrated plan for adding and renovating space throughout the nine-acre medical campus while ensuring that critical research and treatment programs are not interrupted.

“This building is about more than bricks and mortar,” Kessler added. “It’s about people and ideas, and the creation of a favorable environment for making medical breakthroughs. By having a clear focus on disease, I think we will see real advances that impact both individuals and the health of the public. Our goal is to advance the scientific basis of the practice of medicine.”

The Congress Avenue complex will house a Magnetic Resonance Center that will permit expansion of Yale’s cutting-edge capability in imaging – an essential research component in nearly every medical discipline. Also planned is space for offices, laboratory support and a teaching facility to replace the school’s overcrowded and outmoded gross anatomy laboratory in the nearby Sterling Hall of Medicine.

The project is being made possible, Kessler said, through gifts from philanthropic sources. Several foundations and private donors already have committed a portion of the total cost, he added.

Driving the strategic facilities plan are four academic goals for the coming decade that place increased emphasis on clinical efforts. The goals are to:

* Strengthen disease-related research in the clinical departments in order to provide effective treatments and possible cures.

* Sustain the high quality of basic science research that already has yielded discoveries such as Zerit, a leading HIV/AIDS medication prescribed worldwide, and LYMErix, the first vaccine for preventing Lyme disease, which recently was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

* Promote research in epidemiology and public health.

* Upgrade core facilities needed for biomedical research throughout the University.

Other important priorities include continuing the renovation of the Laboratory of Epidemiology and Public Health, upgrading the Yale Cancer Center facilities in cooperation with Yale-New Haven Hospital, making improvements to the Yale Physicians Building, and expanding the space available for clinical neurosciences.

The School of Medicine, one of Yale’s 11 graduate and professional schools, has been among the nation’s preeminent medical centers since its founding in 1810. Over the years, its researchers have made major contributions to public health by isolating the polio virus; promoting the early use of cancer chemotherapy; adding to the arsenal of AIDS medications; discovering genes that contribute to skin cancer and high blood pressure; and making strides in diagnosing and treating depression and other mental disorders.

Yale now ranks fourth among American medical schools in research dollars granted by the National Institutes of Health, with an annual research budget exceeding $200 million. Its dedicated staff of 4,000 professionals is committed to the education of leaders in American medicine, the pursuit of path-breaking advances in basic science and clinical medicine, excellence in patient care, and contributions in public health.

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