Last Phase of U’s Biomedical Discovery District Begins

Construction began Wednesday on the final planned facility at the University of Minnesota's Biomedical Discovery District-a state-of-the-art cancer and cardiovascular research building.

The University of Minnesota said Wednesday that construction is underway on a 280,000-square-foot state-of-the-art cancer and cardiovascular research building-the final planned facility at the U's Biomedical Discovery District.

The new building-which is expected to open in spring 2013-will house researchers from across the U's Academic Health Center, including the Lillehei Heart Institute and the Masonic Cancer Center.

Researchers in the building will study heart regeneration and development, muscular dystrophy, congenital heart medicine, and genomics. The new building will be publicly accessible, allowing visitors to get an up-close look at the research being done in the building.

When the district was first proposed, its leaders wanted to facilitate serendipitous interactions between scientists that could lead to new bioscience ideas, research, and innovation.

Industry leaders also had growing concerns that other states were doing more to support their biosciences industries and that these burgeoning sectors could be siphoning off talent, capital, and businesses from Minnesota.

To prevent that from happening, the university convinced the Minnesota Legislature that it could help power the state's bioscience industry with innovation. The plan included clustering scientists from multiple but intersecting disciplines in state-of-the-art research buildings.

In 2008, the legislature and Governor Tim Pawlenty approved $292 million in bonding to develop the U's Biomedical Discovery District on the eastern end of campus, directly across from the new Gopher football stadium.

The district already includes four buildings: the Lions Research Building for the study of hearing, vision, and neuroscience; the McGuire Translational Research Facility for stem cell, infectious disease, and pharmacy research; the Medical Biosciences Building for neuroscience and immunology; and the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research, which was expanded last year.

Once the final building is complete, the district will include 700,000 square feet of flexible research space and will house about 1,000 people, including up to 165 faculty researchers.