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April 20, 2011

New clinical research building dedicated to advancing care

Saunders Research Building will serve as hub of clinical and translational medicine

Saunders
Saunders

State and University officials opened the doors this month on a new research building at the Medical Center dedicated to cutting the time it takes to turn new ideas into better care for patients.

The Saunders Research Building, named for Rochester-area businessman E. Philip Saunders, will serve as the hub of clinical and translational medicine for both the Medical Center and a network of researchers across the state. It will be home to the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI). Created in 2007, CTSI  provides researchers with the comprehensive set of services, expertise, and resources necessary to carry out all phases of translational research from the point where a new idea is first tested in humans all the way to evaluating the cost and effectiveness of new therapies on a community-wide scale. The CTSI also funds pilot research, oversees new graduate programs in translational medicine, and serves as the nucleus for a network of 16 biomedical research centers in upstate New York.

“While our understanding of disease and the role of behavior and the environment on health has exploded over the last several decades, the reality is that the application of this new knowledge does not happen as regularly or easily as we would like,” says Bradford Berk, CEO of the Medical Center. “This facility was created with the understanding that the future of medicine will be driven by institutions that assemble the teams and create the environment necessary to follow through on discoveries and make them relevant in terms of improving health.”

“This building positions the Medical Center at the forefront of a national movement to break down the barriers between the lab and the lives of people,” says University President Joel Seligman. “We are deeply grateful for the investment made by New York State—under the leadership of the governor’s office, Speaker Sheldon Silver, and Assemblymen Joseph Morelle and David Gantt—in the construction of this facility. This support was essential, and the work that will go on inside this building will help propel local economic growth, foster academic and private partnerships, and improve health.”

The concept of creating a physical home for clinical research at the Medical Center gained momentum in October 2006 when the Medical Center was one of the first institutions in the nation to receive a Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health. The $40 million award—the largest in Medical Center history—allowed the Medical Center to build programs designed to accelerate the application of medical research. Soon after, the Medical Center committed to create a facility in which these activities—and many of the research programs they support—could reside. In 2008, then governors Elliot Spitzer and David Paterson and the State Assembly proposed and ultimately approved $50 million in capital support for the project. 

The facility was formally dedicated as the Saunders Research Building in honor of local businessman Saunders for his decades of support for research at the Medical Center. The Medical Center also announced a $10 million gift from Saunders to support research programs in muscular dystrophy, cancer, and translational medicine. In agreeing to lend his name to this building, Saunders has requested that it honor those who have served in the country’s armed forces. Within the building, a display will be created to serve as a lasting reminder of his gratitude for their sacrifice.“We are deeply grateful to Phil for his decades of support—much of it done anonymously—for muscular dystrophy research,” says Berk.  “I can think of no more appropriate way to recognize his long dedication to advancing promising research than naming a building that embodies that goal in his honor.”

The building will house independent Medical Center research programs in cardiovascular disease, neurological disorders, cancer, pediatrics, and emergency medicine, the Departments of Community and Preventive Medicine, Biostatistics and Computational Biology, and the Office for Human Subject Protection.

“For scientists who have spent most of their career at the lab bench, the process of translating their work into new therapies can be daunting,” says Mark Taubman, dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry. “This building was constructed with the recognition that translational medicine is a completely different discipline and requires people with the knowledge and experience necessary to take new ideas, move them through the many stages of testing and evaluation, and bring them to the point where they will ultimately improve the lives of patients.”

More information on the new building is available at www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/saunders-research-building.


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In Brief

A roundup of news.