VCU Opens Molecular Medicine Research Building

Major phase of medical center renaissance completed

The Molecular Medicine Reserach Building is an eight-story research facility that will house 48 principal investigators and their staffs.
The Molecular Medicine Reserach Building is an eight-story research facility that will house 48 principal investigators and their staffs.

Virginia Commonwealth University today officially dedicated the $71.5 million Molecular Medicine Research Building, signaling the completion of a major phase of the modernization of the academic health sciences center.
   
The eight-story, 125,000-square-foot research facility is the latest addition to the VCU Medical Center and will house 48 principal investigators and their staffs. The laboratory floors are designed with an open layout that encourages interaction among researchers across disciplines.
   
“The cohort of researchers who will occupy the building are outstanding scientists and this new environment will bring out the best in their creativity,” said Jerome F. Strauss, III, M.D., Ph.D., dean, VCU School of Medicine and executive vice president for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System. “These researchers will be transforming our understanding of illness and disease and uncovering new therapies and cures.”
   
The opening of the new building coincides with an increase in National Institutes of Health research awards to the VCU School of Medicine. The School of Medicine recently moved up six positions in the NIH rankings to No. 53 out of 126 ranked schools, with awards of nearly $63 million for medical research, primarily in the areas of neurosurgery, pharmacology and toxicology, human and molecular genetics, anatomy and internal medicine research.

Unveiling the dedication plaque. From left: Michele A. Romano, M.D., vice rector; Sheldon M. Retchin, M.D., M.S.P.H., VCU vice president for Health Sciences and VCU Health System CEO; Eugene P. Trani, Ph.D., VCU president and president and chair of the Board of Directors, VCU Health System; U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott; and Dr. Jerome F. Strauss III, M.D., Ph.D., dean, VCU School of Medicine
Unveiling the dedication plaque. From left: Michele A. Romano, M.D., vice rector; Sheldon M. Retchin, M.D., M.S.P.H., VCU vice president for Health Sciences and VCU Health System CEO; Eugene P. Trani, Ph.D., VCU president and president and chair of the Board of Directors, VCU Health System; U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott; and Dr. Jerome F. Strauss III, M.D., Ph.D., dean, VCU School of Medicine

“We now have a facility that is second to none to house researchers who are discovering significant advances that are being translated into improved clinical care for patients locally and across the country,” said VCU president Eugene P. Trani. “We are in a position to enhance the upward trajectory of our medical researching funding at a time when federal support for biomedical research has been relatively flat.”

The VCU Molecular Medicine Science Building is one of the projects partially funded by the 2002 General Obligation Bond packaged approved by Virginia voters in 2002. Total state funding for the $71.5 million project exceeds $42.1 million.

“The state General Assembly and Virginia’s citizens recognize the vital role of the VCU Medical Center to provide scientific breakthroughs that lead to advances in medical care,” said Dr. Sheldon M. Retchin, VCU vice president for Health Sciences and VCU Health System CEO. “Our researchers are developing the latest biomedical advances through federally and industry-sponsored studies – this new building will be the home to some of the nation’s most productive scientists.”
The state-of-the-science research facility also is registered with the United States Green Building Council and anticipates LEED certification in three to six months. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the council’s leading rating system for designing and constructing the world’s greenest, most energy efficient and high-performing buildings.

Key energy conservation features include:
•    Water efficient fixtures that reduce water use by 20 percent compared with comparable buildings
•    Energy recovery wheel in the air handling system that captures and re-uses heat energy that normally would be expelled into the environment
•    Chilled beam air conditioning system, new to the United States, that mixes overhead conditioned air with existing room air to the appropriate temperature and humidity
•    Green roof on the second floor terrace consists of vegetation that absorbs roof rain water, which normally would be sent to the city storm sewers via roof drains
•    Environmentally friendly, low hydrocarbon construction materials, such as paint and carpeting

VCU and its contractors, Ballinger, in association with Commonwealth Architects and Skanska USA of Durham, N.C., worked with the Historic Richmond Foundation on the design and construction of the building to ensure that the structure complemented and protected the view of its next door neighbor, the historic Monumental Church

About the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center

The Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center is one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers and stands alone as the most comprehensive academic medical center in Central Virginia. The medical center includes the 865-bed MCV Hospitals and outpatient clinics, MCV Physicians -- a 600-physician-faculty group practice, and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University. The VCU Medical Center, through its VCU Health System, offers state-of-the-art care in more than 200 specialty areas, many of national and international note, including organ transplantation, head and spinal cord trauma, burn healing and cancer treatment. The VCU Medical Center is the site for the region’s only Level 1 Trauma Center. As a leader in healthcare research, the VCU Medical Center offers patients the opportunity to choose to participate in programs that advance evolving treatment, such as those sponsored by the National Cancer Institute through VCU’s Massey Cancer Center, Virginia’s first NCI-designated cancer center. The VCU Medical Center’s academic mission is supported by VCU’s health sciences schools of medicine, allied health, dentistry, pharmacy and nursing.