UCSF: Breaking Ground on New Biotech Mecca
The new biological research building in Mission Bay, the first structure in the 43-acre new University of California-San Francisco campus, broke ground yesterday. The new campus will double the research space now available at UCSF's Parnassus Avenue complex and will house 9,000 faculty, students and staff in 2.6 million square feet of space. The entire Mission Bay complex will encompass 5.5 million square feet of space and generate an estimate 31,000 jobs in 30 years. Keith Yamamoto, chair of UCSF's cellular and molecular pharmacology department, said, "It is not just more space. It allows us to define ourselves with larger opportunities." Some of those opportunities will include UCSF's ability to "do research on the cutting edge of biology and chemistry, a kind of biotech mecca." The new configurations will allow researchers in different disciplines can combine their strengths. Yamamoto said, "It gives us the opportunity to use chemical procedures to understand very complex biological problems." Donald Genam, a microbiology and medicine professor, called the new campus "unprecedented," adding, "A very successful world-class university is dividing itself by binary fission." The designs for the Mission Bay complex and UCSF are "being designed along the lines of Stanford University and the Stanford Industrial Park, so that one plays off the other" (Nolte, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/25). Chronicle columnist Tom Abate notes that the groundbreaking of the new facility comes at a time when hospital "administrators are grappling with how best to shut down Mount Zion's busy emergency room, which serves one of San Francisco's poorest neighborhoods." President of the UCSF Faculty Association Dr. Warren Gold said, "There's an obvious symbolism in these two events. The medical-discovery side of the campus is extremely healthy, but the medical-delivery side is sick." Abate also notes that an "aura of belt tightening and gloom hangs over the entire UCSF Stanford Health Care System," as many doctors take pay cuts, nurses tend to more patients and support staff are getting laid off. Still, UCSF breakthroughs early on helped establish the biotech industry and Abate argues that researchers "need and deserve the modern quarters planned for Mission Bay." And the new campus "is expected to become a magnet for drug and biotech firms, cementing Northern California's position as a world center for the biomedical industry" ( San Francisco Chronicle, 10/25).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.