Construction will begin next summer on a state-of-the-art facility at the GW Medical Center that will house researchers studying neglected infections and diseases.
Using a $15 million National Institutes of Health grant, the largest award ever received by the University, the center’s main hall will undergo renovations to provide the physical space for the Research Center for the Neglected Diseases of Poverty. GW will fund the remaining $20 million needed for the center.
The researchers will focus on “neglected infections of poverty” – a group of infections that disproportionately affect poor communities – and neglected tropical diseases that affect 1 billion people worldwide.
“For the first time, basic science, translational research, public health, clinical activities, and public policy will be brought together in an interactive framework to launch a coordinated assault on these diseases,” University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard said.
The facility will be located on the fifth and sixth floors of Ross Hall, next door to GW Hospital. About 35,000 square feet of “closed” lab space will be converted into more widely accessible areas to promote more research collaboration.
Faculty members in GW’s Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Tropical Medicine are leading the project, although the center will incorporate research among multiple fields.
To reduce operational costs, Sherrard said a major goal of the project is energy efficiency. The research center will be constructed to LEED standards, which would make it the latest GW building to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Residence halls South Hall and West Hall are both LEED-certified and the University expects Lafayette Hall to receive certification once its renovations are completed.
The facility will include an advanced heating and cooling system to reduce the substantial energy use associated with research labs, Sherrard said, and Ross Hall’s existing central utility plant will be expanded to provide energy for the recently-approved Science and Engineering Complex.
Sherrard said the construction will have a limited impact on residents near Ross Hall, due to the insulated focus of the project. Medical Center staff will be temporarily relocated during construction, but Sherrard said the University is working to ensure current research is not disrupted.
The University expects to complete the project in early 2013.