The proposed location. (Map courtesy of The University of Alabama at Birmingham)
A new Biomedical Research and Psychology Building on the campus of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), made possible by a $76 million federal appropriation, received stage 1 approval from the UA System Board of Trustees, the school announced Dec. 12.
Pending additional approvals by the board of trustees, the building will house the College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Psychology, and research-intensive departments serving the Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine.
The six-story, 165,000-sq.-ft. building will be constructed in the heart of the UAB academic campus just north of University Boulevard and west of 16th Street South, across from the Heersink School of Medicine's Volker Hall. The new structure will affect some of the current surface parking east of the UAB Hill Student Center, which will lead to the construction of a parking deck just north of the student center.
The new deck received stage 3 approval from the UA System Board of Trustees at its September meeting.
Wet and dry research laboratories and research support spaces in the new Biomedical Research and Psychology Building will provide the flexibility necessary for investigators from various fields and disciplines to use the space. That resilience also will allow for the optimized utilization of the space, enhancing interdisciplinary collaboration and the sharing of scientific equipment and resources, according to UAB News.
UAB Vice President for Research Chris Brown added that the Biomedical Research and Psychology Building will allow the university to aggressively expand its research portfolio and related funding and economic impact.
"This new building is a much-needed resource and great addition for our researchers," he explained. "The collective strength of our research enterprise generated more than $700 million in funding last year, which bolsters the institution, [the city of] Birmingham, [the state of] Alabama and beyond. To increase that economic impact, we need more space for the important work taking place.
"This building provides that additional space," Brown continued, "which will be critical to expanding our research portfolio and all the positive effects that has."
U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby Key to Federal Funding
UAB research funding exceeded $715 million in 2022 — a $67.8 million year-to-year boost that extends the university's five-year increase to $237 million, which is a 50 percent growth in research funding during that time.
In addition to the $76 million federal appropriation, the new building project also is slated to receive $29 million from the College of Arts and Sciences and UAB.
University of Alabama System Chancellor Finis St. John noted that U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby has played an instrumental role in advocating for strategic priorities that address critical societal needs across the University of Alabama System, including at UAB.
"We have great appreciation for Sen. Shelby's unwavering commitment to advancing scientific research and education and his invaluable leadership in securing critical federal funding that will bring this project to life," said St. John. "The transformative work performed in this new facility will improve countless lives and elevate UAB's standing as a global leader in biomedical research."
UAB President Ray L. Watts also thanked Shelby for his involvement in championing the new Biomedical Research and Psychology Building, which he described as "a hub for further interdisciplinary collaboration in the heart of our campus."
"State-of-the-art facilities like this advance the aims of our strategic plan, Forging the Future, make UAB more competitive globally, and bring better health and quality of life to the people of Alabama and beyond," he added.
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