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Collaboration becomes a possibility with new health science buildings

Students and faculty are now learning and collaborating within two new buildings located on the southwest corner of South Donahue and Lem Morrison Drive.

The Harrison School of Pharmacy’s new Pharmaceutical Research Building and the new School of Nursing building are now part of the Health Sciences Sector that also includes the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Auburn campus.

The Pharmaceutical Research Building, which began construction last June and was completed this May with a $16.6 million budget, features 37,431-square-feet of open-air shared research laboratories within its three floors.

“The building was designed to be a place where science is conducted in a collaborative environment,” Harrison School of Pharmacy Department Head Tim Moore said. “The tradition of lab space being kind of siloed off and partitioned is not the concept that this building was built on.”

Associate Dean of the Harrison School of Pharmacy Paul Jungnickel said the building became a necessity for the school because of the growing number of students not having enough space for research in the existing facilities.

In creating more space for students, the design of the new facility also promotes collaboration between them, something that Associate Professor Miranda Reed said will greatly benefit her Alzheimer’s disease research with graduate students.

“One of the things I love most about it is that it is very open concept, all the labs can see each other and communicate very easily,” Reed said. “Its made collaboration a lot easier.”

While the majority of the building is completed and in use by students and faculty, Moore said the building won’t be in its fully completed state until mid-October, still awaiting completion of the 3rd-floor Vivarium.

“We are close to having our completed building but we still have some lagging issues to take care of,” Moore said. “These issues are certainly not significantly affecting any of our faculty who have moved down there.”

According to Moore, the faculty that have moved into the new space have adjusted quickly and are picking up projects right where they left off in the older facilities. He expects the work done in the new building will provide the School of Pharmacy and University recognition in the world of medicine they have not yet received.

“I think [the new building] puts a nice notice of research activity that we didn’t have before,” Moore said. “We are really hoping it will increase our reputation as a school of pharmacy which would then raise the reputation of the University as a research institute.”

As for the 89,000-square-foot School of Nursing building that was completed this July with a $29 million budget, Dean Gregg Newschwander said faculty are equally as excited about their new facility.

“Faculty have responded very positively to the classroom spaces, the skills lab, and the simulation lab; everybody is very impressed with the building,” Newschwander said. “The opportunities of the building will provide for them to be better teachers.”

The faculty isn’t the only ones excited for the new spaces, though, as nursing students are enjoying the new facility too according to Newschwander.

“Over the last few years our students haven’t had a place, they’ve been all over the University because we didn’t have any room for them in our hall,” Newschwander said. “There’s a few glitches with parking, food service and things like that but I think they’re really happy with the student spaces, the instructional spaces and just like having a place to call home.”

Like the new Pharmaceutical Research Building, the School of Nursing building will provide students with more collaborative opportunities thanks to their proximity to one another and other parts of the Health Sciences Sector.

“This is a place where people in their last semester will interact with people in their first,” Newschwander said. “I think that the serendipitous meeting of faculty and students in the hallway can happen here — it couldn’t happen when they were all in different buildings — and that’s where some of the best learning happens.”

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