The federal omnibus appropriation bill that was signed into law by President Joe Biden on Dec. 29, 2022, includes $76 million championed by former U.S. Senator Richard Shelby to support a needed new Biomedical Research and Psychology Building at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
The project — announced earlier this year following stage 1 approval from the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees — had already received a separate $76 million federal appropriation. The project has now received $152 million in federal funding.
Pending additional approvals by UA System Board of Trustees, the building will house the research-intensive departments from the Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine, as well as the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Psychology.
“We remain grateful to Senator Shelby, who championed this important project at the federal level, as well as the UA System Office and the Board of Trustees for their support of this new facility that will be a hub for further interdisciplinary collaboration in the heart of our campus,” said UAB President Ray L. Watts. “Interdisciplinary collaboration is a longtime strength and hallmark of UAB. State-of-the-art facilities like this advance the aims of our strategic plan, make UAB more competitive globally, and bring better health and quality of life to the people of Alabama and beyond.”
“I am proud to have worked with UAB to secure an additional $76 million in federal funding for a new biomedical research building,” Shelby said. “This project is critical to significant scientific discoveries that will contribute to the advancement of health care for the state, the nation and the world. My goal has always been to create the conditions for growth and success, and this facility will undoubtedly enhance Alabama’s future.”
University of Alabama System Chancellor Finis St. John says Shelby played an instrumental role in advocating for strategic priorities that address critical societal needs across the University of Alabama System, including UAB.
“We have great appreciation for Senator Shelby’s unwavering commitment to advancing scientific research and education and his invaluable leadership in securing critical federal funding that will bring this project to life,” St. John said. “The transformative work performed in this new facility will improve countless lives and elevate UAB’s standing as a global leader in biomedical research.”
UAB Vice President for Research Chris Brown says the Biomedical Research and Psychology Building will allow UAB to aggressively expand its research portfolio and related funding and economic impact.
“This new building is a much-needed resource and great addition for our researchers,” Brown said. “The collective strength of our research enterprise generated more than $700 million in funding last year — which bolsters the institution, Birmingham, Alabama and beyond. To increase that economic impact, we need more space for the important work taking place. This building provides that additional space, which will be critical to expanding our research portfolio and all the positive effects that has.”
UAB research funding exceeded $715 million in 2022 — a $67.8 million year-to-year boost that extends UAB’s five-year increase to $237 million, which represents a 50 percent growth in research funding during that time period.
Wet and dry research laboratories and research support spaces in the new Biomedical Research and Psychology Building will provide the flexibility necessary for investigators from various fields and disciplines to utilize the space. Flexibility will also allow for the optimized utilization of the space, enhancing interdisciplinary collaboration, and the sharing of scientific equipment and resources.
Activity-based layouts will be used to promote collaboration and provide easier access to resources and safe environments. Occupants will have access to various work platforms to promote maximum creativity and productivity.
The building will be located in the heart of the academic campus just north of University Boulevard and west of 16th Street South, across from the Heersink School of Medicine’s Volker Hall. The new building will affect some of the existing parking east of the UAB Hill Student Center, which is planned to be addressed by a new parking deck just north of the student center. The new parking deck received stage 3 approval from the UA System Board of Trustees at its September meeting.
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