Planned Drug Discovery Building celebrated

April 18, 2012

This artist's rendering shows what the Drug Discovery Building will look like upon completion in 2014. The facility will be located within the Purdue Life and Health Sciences Park, located near Harrison Street and University Drive.

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University will take another step forward as a leader in pharmaceutical development efforts with construction of the new Drug Discovery Building.

The $25 million facility, which is scheduled to open in 2014, was celebrated Wednesday (April 18) during an event in the university's Stewart Center.

"Purdue research has been at the forefront of drug discovery, and this building is another step in assuring that we attract top scientists to further our efforts in finding solutions to real-world problems," said Purdue President France A. Córdova. "Purdue is committed to becoming one of the top destinations for drug discovery."

The Drug Discovery Building will be located in the Purdue Life and Health Sciences Park, located near Harrison and University streets. The new facility will be west of the Agricultural and Biological Engineering Building, with construction scheduled to begin this summer.

"The fact that we will have a building devoted specifically to this scientific endeavor demonstrates that the university is very serious about becoming a pre-eminent site for the discovery and development of new drugs," said Philip Low, Purdue's Ralph C. Corley Distinguished Professor of Chemistry.

"Our intention is to draw the attention of the world to not only the current quality of research in this field that is taking place at Purdue, but also to our future potential as we expand and enhance our strength in the area."

The facility will partially replace space in the Wetherill Laboratory of Chemistry, where a group led by Low has developed novel treatments for cancer and inflammatory diseases.

"We have carefully considered the construction of the building in every detail and have designed it to be very flexible so that it can accommodate multiple research focuses and areas," Low said, adding that the lab space will be conducive to seamless altering. "The new building will be very open inside with continuous space that will extend from one lab into the next. We believe this not only allows for maximum versatility, but it also will promote collaborations more easily and enable sharing of equipment and resources."

The lab design will allow undergraduate and graduate students to observe experiments from outside through glass barriers.

"They'll be able to watch some of the more senior researchers perform experiments without having to knock on a door," Low said.

Purdue researchers that will move into the new facility have not yet been identified, but are expected to originate from myriad disciplines.

"The anticipation is that they will come from multiple schools, multiple departments and multiple buildings," Low said. "There is existing strength at the university in cancer research that is facilitated strongly by the success of the Purdue Center for Cancer Research. I think there may be a focus on this area, but the Drug Discovery Building won't be exclusively committed to that disease."

Purdue will soon commence a search for two researchers in the area of drug discovery to work at the new facility.

"We will go out and find two of the top stars in the country, or even the world, to join us here," Low said. "At the present, we're not restricting ourselves to any field of interest or disease focus. We simply want scientists who are interested in designing and making new drugs, and also in translating these discoveries into the clinic. We also feel we need to include in our mission statement the desire not only to discover new medicines, but also to assure that they benefit the people we serve."

Purdue will combine up to $5 million in funds from gifts and facility and administrative cost recovery with $20 million in bond proceeds to pay for the project.

"It's a very exciting opportunity for the university, and I believe it's going to greatly enhance the ability of the faculty interested in drug discovery to achieve their goals. I think because of this you'll see new spin-off companies develop in the community," Low said. "You'll also see a lot of other outside researchers visit here. This will be a place where researchers will want to come to learn how to do drug discovery."

As part of Wednesday's (April 18) event, the university also celebrated plans for Lyles-Porter Hall, a new facility to house Purdue's nationally ranked Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences and medical and health programs that provide students a variety of learning and clinical experiences.

Writer:  Brian Peloza, 765-494-2081, bpeloza@purdue.edu

Sources:  France A. Cordova, president@purdue.edu
                   Philip Low, 765-494-5273, plow@purdue.edu

Related website:
Low Laboratory