New York, N.Y., May 30, 1997 – Columbia University runs the largest medical research enterprise in New York. Today it became even bigger with the opening of the $66 million Russ Berrie Medical Science Pavilion at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. The building, named for New Jersey businessman Russ Berrie, doubles Columbia’s laboratory space for cancer research, devotes two floors to an expanded $30 million genetics program, and will house New York’s most comprehensive diabetes research and treatment center.
Despite the fact that medical research funding at Columbia has nearly doubled in the last decade from $106 million in 1987 to $203 million in 1996,* the Russ Berrie building is the first new research building on Columbia’s medical center campus in more than 20 years. The building was financed in part by a $13.5 million gift from Mr. Berrie, founder of Russ Berrie and Company Inc., (Oakland, N.J.), one of the world’s premier plush toy and upscale gift companies. The balance was funded by a $10 million gift from the Fairchild Foundation, plus a mix of federal, state, and Columbia money. The seven-story, 175,000-gross-square-foot facility is the second structure in Columbia’s growing Audubon Biomedical Science and Technology Park. Audubon, the first and only university-related research park in New York City, will eventually consist of five academic and commercial research facilities. The first building, known as the Mary Woodard Lasker Medical Research Building, houses 15 biotechnology companies. Together, the two buildings foster collaboration between industry and academic science. Columbia has more than 250 active license collaborations with industry and ranks among the nation’s top three universities in the revenues it derives from technology transfer activities. “This type of research building is exactly what New York needs to regain its dominance in biomedical research and establish a foothold in the biotech industry,” says Herbert Pardes, M.D., vice president for Health Sciences and dean of the faculty of medicine at Columbia University. “By mixing industry and academic science in the same research park, ideas and collaboration will flourish. That’s good for Columbia and it’s great for New York.”
The structure was designed by Davis Brody Bond and sits east of Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center on Broadway at 168th Street in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan. The building features underground parking, first-floor retail space and conference facilities for up to 180 people, and five floors of research space. Occupants will move into the building after July 1.
The Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center will occupy the second floor. The center is named in honor of Mr. Berrie’s mother who, like her son, had diabetes. The center will offer patient care and conduct research on a scale not currently available in New York. It will open for patients sometime in early 1998.
Columbia’s Genome Center, dedicated to the identification of novel human genes associated with many genetically based diseases, will occupy space equivalent to two floors in the building. A recent $30 million agreement between Columbia and VIMRx Pharmaceuticals has contributed to a major expansion of Columbia’s Genome Center where investigators are on the forefront of the race to identify genes associated with cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, manic-depressive disorder, glaucoma, and other diseases.
Up to eight faculty from Columbia’s Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (one of only two comprehensive cancer centers in New York) will study cancer genetics in new space at the Russ Berrie Pavilion.
An expanded research program in pediatrics will occupy approximately 12,000 square feet of space in the new building. A significant portion of this space will be occupied by a new division of molecular genetics that is interested in the molecular mechanisms which determine control of body weight and mediate susceptibility to diabetes.
*Includes all sponsored projects at Columbia University’s Health Sciences Division including the schools of medicine, public health, nursing and dentistry, but excluding grants to The New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia faculty at affiliate hospital