In a bold move signaling NC State’s commitment to broadening its partnerships in biomedical research, the Board of Trustees has approved a master plan for development of a university “biopark” surrounding
its College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM).

The 20-year master plan calls for the addition of 1.6 million square feet of space in about 25 laboratory, office, animal care and teaching hospital buildings at the intersection of Hillsborough Street and Blue Ridge Road. Called the Centennial Biomedical Campus (CBC), the development will be an important complement to the university’s 1,100-acre Centennial Campus, just five minutes away. The CBC will offer room for industry and government researchers, entrepreneurs, clinical trial companies, and even collaborators from other universities to work side by side with veterinary faculty and students, and to share animal care, testing and high-tech imaging facilities.

This decision reflects the growing emphasis on genomic science and biomedical research throughout the university, particularly in areas that involve animal “models” for human health care. The first addition to the campus will be a 104,000-square-foot research building to house genomic scientists, many of whose laboratories have outgrown existing college facilities and moved into leased space nearby. The $35 million building is expected to break ground in 2002 along with $17 million in infrastructure improvements.

Centennial Campus coordinator Bob Geolas says that the recent university bond referendum approved by the voters will help get the CBC started, but that most of the required financing will come from private investment. The Centennial Financing Authority approved by the North Carolina Assembly also allows the university to borrow capital to build facilities, then lease the space to repay the loan.

This strategy has been a major boost to the 15-year-old Centennial Campus, where 70 industry partners now reside. The master plan envisions closely clustered building sites, preserving the bucolic views across the college pastures and farm pond to the historic barns. Land may be leased by industry, university or private developers for office and laboratory buildings. Plans also call for a 40- to 50-million-dollar pet hospital addition extending from the existing college facilities toward Hillsborough Street.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Dean Oscar Fletcher is enthusiastic about what the CBC will mean to the college. “This new biomedical campus will provide tremendous opportunities for the veterinary faculty to develop strong partnerships with private biomedical companies, research groups, and diagnostic laboratories,” he says.

The College of Veterinary Medicine is no stranger to partnerships with industry and government in developing and testing protocols such as drugs, vaccines, implants, surgical techniques and gene therapy for both animals and humans. “The college is making a major entrepreneurial thrust toward partnerships and leveraging resources with industry,” explains research dean Dr. Neil Olson, “particularly in the areas of gene therapy, DNA vaccine development, development of molecular diagnostic tests, food safety, cancer immunotherapy and genetic manipulation of livestock and pet animals to prevent inherited and acquired diseases.”

“The closer the partnership, the more productive we will both be, says Dr. Brian Huber, vice president for biology, metabolic, musculoskeletal, and viral diseases at GlaxoSmithKline. “We’re both facing the challenge to be more productive, effective and efficient. We can provide equipment and other resources to the academic sector that they would never have, and we need access to certain university expertise and skills that complement what we have in industry. Our good relationships with the veterinary college will be strengthened by closer proximity.” Bayer research scientist Kyle Landskroner reflects on the success of the company’s current location on the Centennial Campus, saying "Because we are neighbors, it allows us to set up scientific collaborations and interact very easily. Being closer to the vet school would provide an even greater advantage.”

CVM researchers are seeking to boost support from biomedical, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. The $19 million annual research budget for the college includes $8 million from sources outside the university, including companies like Bayer, Pfizer, and Merck/Merial. GlaxoSmith- Kline has recently signed an agreement to provide up to one million dollars each year over the next five years for collaborative research, its first such agreement with a veterinary college.

In the next five years, the college predicts it will double its $5.5 million in research support from the National Institutes of Health, which only funds research for human health benefit. Using animals as models, researchers are working on cures for human diseases such as cancer, muscular dystrophy, degenerative myelopathy, AIDS, asthma, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Olson maintains that putting more emphasis on human health research will benefit animal health as well.

For more information, please visit
http://www.cvm.ncsu.edu/