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Texas Biomedical Research Institute to expand

By Valentino Lucio
San Antonio Express-News
May 25, 2012

There’s room to grow, and that’s exactly what they aim to do.

The Texas Biomedical Research Institute plans to build a 70,000-square-foot building that will serve as a new front door to the 200-acre campus and allow for the enhancement of existing research programs and the creation of new ones, said Kenneth Trevett, the organization’s president and CEO.

The $26.45 million building will provide eight laboratories for the institute’s federally designated Southwest National Primate Research Center (SNPRC), which is where work concerning tuberculosis, heart disease, diabetes and AIDS is done. The expansion also will allow the institute to grow its research into stem cell use, Trevett added. There also will be space for an additional six virology and immunology laboratories and one biomedical safety laboratory.

“We’ve got real room to grow here,” Trevett said.

The construction of the 2-story facility, which will be named after Earl Slick, the brother of the institute’s founder, is part of the first phase of a 25-year master plan that has been in the works for about a decade, Trevett said. Phase one also includes $15 million for recruitment start-up packages for 11 new researchers.

The second phase is expected to start in the next five years and will include the construction of an animal procedure holding area and renovations to about 530,000 square feet of existing buildings. Other future projects include infrastructure enhancements, more green space on the campus and a new entrance, according to the institute’s 2011 annual report.

Building permits still need to be secured from the city, but construction is expected to start in June with completion by late 2013, Trevett said.

San Antonio-based Lake|Flato Architects and Houston-based FKP Architects are the designers and the builder is Houston-based Vaughn Construction. The institute is seeking a Leadership in Energy and  Environmental Design designation for the new facility. To achieve that goal, the building will have a modern design that will allow natural light to diffuse into office and lab areas. The building is expected to operate 20 percent more efficiently than current building codes require,  Greg Papay of Lake|Flato said in the institute’s annual report.

For its master plan, the institute has raised $30 million from 53 donors. The institute plans to raise another $11 million by 2014, officials said in a news release. Nearly a dozen donors gave $1 million or more to the institute during the campaign.

“The Texas Biomedical Research Institute is an incredible organization that is critical for San Antonio, for research and for attracting the best and the brightest. What they do is significant for our town,” said Jackie Moczygemba, manager for the Ewing Halsell Foundation, which donated funds for an infectious disease researcher. “We’re pleased to invest in their intellectual and human capital. It’s necessary to further the research effort aimed at helping humanity.”