Med Center South? UT Houston Breaks New Ground

The Texas Medical Center is slowly moving south thanks to a new project that will dramatically expand the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Here's more from Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams.

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It will be called the Research Park Complex, almost 400,000 square feet of space that will include a new dental school facility, neuroscience building and biomedical research and education facility. The $161 million dollar project on land just south of Old Spanish Trail is part of a collaboration with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Peter Davies is the vice president for research at UT Houston.

"It's more than outgrowing existing facilities. This is new growth. This is new space, new facilities tied to some of our partnership with MD Anderson in developing new imaging facilities together and then establishing new opportunities to create facilities for both neuroscience research, neuropsychiatric research and also our new program in adult stem cell research."

What most would consider the main Medical Center is visible, about a half a mile to the northwest of this big open grass field, with only a couple of bulldozers an indication of what will be here in a couple of years. Davies says this is the future of the expanding Medical Center.

"This is being looked upon as the south campus of the medical center and plainly it represents the University of Texas land and facilities, but it's all part of the greater Texas Medical Center."

The three independent programs will be connected into one facility, creating a complex that will combine research, educational and clinical efforts. Dr. Thomas Caskey is the director of the Institute of Molecular Medicine at UT Houston.

"It gives us a tremendous amount of strength in basic science to the dental school. It allows us to be near the new imaging facilities that are being used now for cardiovascular work and for cancer work so it brings a cluster of scientific technologies together within the same campus."

The UT Dental Branch has been in the same building for 52-years and has outgrown the facilities. The Research Park Complex will include a huge new dental complex that will include classrooms, laboratories and patient service areas. Dr. Catherine Flaitz is the Dean of the UT Dental Branch.

"We love our space in the Texas Medical Center, but this new campus will allow us to be more flexible, will allow our patients greater access and it will give us an opportunity to grow and also collaborate with neighbors that literally are right next door to us with similar interests."

The dental branch facility should be complete by 2010, with the other parts of the campus finished soon after that. You can see pictures of the campus on our website, KUHF.org.

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