The UH System Board of Regents today approved the construction of a 167,000-square-foot Health and Biomedical Sciences Center that will house laboratories, academic space and surgical facilities.
The six-story building will be connected to UH's College of Optometry at the corner of Wheeler Avenue and Calhoun Road.
The building will provide laboratory space and accommodate resources for the College of Optometry's faculty, students and patients. It also will be a center for collaborative research efforts between faculty and students across a host of disciplines.
"This facility will focus on health-related research," said Welcome Wilson, chairman of the UHS Board of Regents. "UH has been a leader in health research for many years. More than 50 percent of our research funding is devoted to health, and 25 percent is allotted toward research that is related to health. This building will make a huge impact on our research efforts in this area."
The facility also will unite the talents of two of UH's esteemed research units, the Texas Learning and Computation Center (TLC²) and the Texas Institute for Measurement Evaluation and Statistics (TIMES).
"This is a historic decision by the Board of Regents. The Health and Biomedical Sciences Center will be UH's first truly interdisciplinary research facility at UH that will incorporate researchers from the Colleges of Optometry, Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, Engineering, Natural Science and Mathematics and Pharmacy," said David Francis, director of TIMES and a Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor.
The facility's construction budget is $70 million. Upon approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in October, construction will begin in August 2010. It is scheduled to open its doors in May 2012.
"Today is a great day for our college, for our alumni and for the optometric profession," said Earl Smith, dean of the College of Optometry and Greeman-Petty Professor. "Regent Dennis Golden, the Vision Institute Committee, our alumni, donors and friends of the college have played a critical role in our efforts to secure this building, and we can't thank them enough for their unwavering support. With the new facility, we will offer expanded services to our patients to create enhanced educational experiences for our optometry students and establish important research collaborations with other scientists that will ultimately impact vision and its care for future generations."
Golden, a College of Optometry alumnus, expressed his optimism for the facility, saying that it will bolster the university's growth and take his alma mater to new levels of excellence.
"It is with distinct pride that I make the motion to approve the construction of this building," he said. "I truly feel that this will make UH's College of Optometry number one in the world."