GAINESVILLE - With two towering mounds of sand nearby, Gov. Jeb Bush and University of Florida leaders opted for a small sandbox to officially break ground for a $85-million building which will house researchers in cancer, genetics and biotechnology.
The 280,000-square-foot structure will be the largest research facility on the UF campus and will house the UF Genetics Institute, the UF Shands Cancer Research Center, the Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research and the C.A. Pound Human Identification Laboratory.
"We have people desperately seeking the benefits of this research, here and now," said Bush.
Joining Bush for the groundbreaking were University of Florida president J. Bernard Machen, Douglas J. Barrett, vice president for Health Affairs; Carolyn Roberts, chairman of the Florida Board of Governors; Carlos J. Alfonso, member of the Florida Board of Trustees, and Winfred Phillips, vice president for research.
Phillips said the new facility should be open by the spring of 2006.
"The greatest scientific riddles - from curing cancer to preserving biodiversity to making gene therapy work - are unlikely to be solved by scientists in a single discipline," he said. "This genetics and cancer research building is UF's latest effort to facilitate the type of interdisciplinary research that will resolve these questions."
Phillips said the building is funded by a $35-million bond issue; $30-million from the sale of UF's interest in a biotechnology center, plus state and donor money. The new structure will include research labs, animal-research facilities, faculty and administrative offices and a rooftop greenhouse.
The Genetics Institute wing will have six stories, while the UF Shands Cancer Center research wing will have five stories on the south side, near the existing Jerry and Judith Davis Cancer Center. The biotechnology institute will be mainly on the first floor of the south wing of the building.
Dr. Kenneth Burns, director of the UF Genetics Institute, said genetics is the direction biological sciences is going.
"Collaborating with the cancer center is a very logical effort. Many of the fundamental questions of cancer and genetics research are indistinguishable - cancer is a genetic disease," Burns said.