WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – A research facility tailored to meet the needs of two of Wake Forest University’s premier research areas was dedicated Tuesday (May 16) in the expanding Piedmont Triad Research Park in downtown Winston-Salem.
Biotechnology Research Facility 1 (BRF1) houses the offices and laboratories of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which just announced the successful implantation of bladders grown outside the body, and the Lipid Sciences Research Program, which is investigating additional causes of hardening of the arteries as well as how to boost HDL cholesterol – the good cholesterol. Space is also available for new tenants.
The 240-acre Piedmont Triad Research Park (PTRP) already is one of the largest urban research parks in the nation. BRF1 is the park’s sixth building, with another building under construction nearby and an existing building undergoing renovations.
“With the opening of this facility, Wake Forest alone has now added over 200 scientists, technicians and staff to the park’s employment base since the park expansion initiative began with the groundbreaking for this building a little over two years ago,” said Richard H. Dean, M.D., president and CEO of Wake Forest University Health Sciences (WFUHS).
BRF1 is five stories with about 187,000 square feet, and was built at a cost of $72 million. It incorporates innovative technology for scientific laboratories on the three completed floors. It includes the latest in designs for laboratories, with the tissue engineering floor including open labs that run nearly the length of the building.
The building has space available for non-university tenants consisting of 11,595 square feet on the first floor and 27,625 square feet on the second floor. A six-level, 457-space parking deck between BRF1 and the Piedmont Triad Community Research Center serves both buildings.
“There is no question that Winston-Salem has been going through a number of changes and difficulties with our economy, and this park represents part of our future as we rebuild our economy based on knowledge,” said Allen Joines, mayor of Winston-Salem.
The Research Park’s 240 acres includes some existing buildings that could be renovated for new uses as well as cleared or vacant land.
“The momentum we are experiencing in Winston Salem from our lifescience research sector, workforce development programs, and growth of our research park is clear evidence of the cooperative effort of city and state officials, the local business community, and universities, lead by Wake Forest University Health Sciences,” said Christopher H. Price, Ph.D., executive director of PTRP and senior vice president of WFUHS.
“The revitalization of downtown Winston Salem is matching the pace of the research park, and both reflect a national trend toward re-urbanization fueled by a knowledge-based economy.”
Just a few weeks ago, Anthony Atala, M.D., director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine, reported in the journal The Lancet that his group had grown new bladders for seven children from their own cells and had implanted them back into the patients, with good long-term outcomes. The report attracted international attention.
The Lipid Sciences Research Group is heir to a 50-year research effort at the medical school to uncover all the causes of hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis, the key element for most heart attacks and strokes. One recent research initiative has been documenting the dangers of trans fats, the partially hydrogenated oils that makes margarine solid and have recently been added to the food-labeling requirements because of their health hazards.
The building was designed by O’Brien Atkins and constructed by Shelco Inc.
Wake Forest’s new president, Nathan O. Hatch, Ph.D. thanked his predecessor, Thomas K. Hearn Jr., Ph.D., for his role in starting up the park. “Wake Forest will remain a full and active partner in this endeavor,” he said. “It symbolizes our collective future and our commitment to sustain and nurture this community. I pledge to do all that we can to continue this important and critical effort.”
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Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center is an academic health system comprised of North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University Health Sciences, which operates the university’s School of Medicine and its other related enterprises including the Piedmont Triad Research Park. The Medical School is ranked 4th in the Southeastern United States in revenues from its licensed intellectual property.