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New addition to LMU’s HighTechCampus

Foundation stone for the Biomedical Center now in place

Munich, 09/30/2011

A new chapter in the ongoing story of LMU’s HighTechCampus in Großhadern/Martinsried began yesterday, as the foundation stone was laid for the new Biomedical Center (BMC). Some 125 million Euros have been allocated to cover the cost of construction of the BMC, which incorporates the Center for Applied Cell Research. A further 19 million Euros will be spent on equipping the new facilities.

The Prime Minister of Bavaria, Horst Seehofer, who took part in the ceremony, observed that “The Biomedical Center represents a very significant investment in the future of Bavaria as an outstanding research location, and is a prime example of Bavarian economic and science policy. This is how our developmental strategy, “Bavaria on the Move”, can be realized.”

Dr. Georg Schütte, Minister of State in the Federal Ministry of Education and Science, underlined the fact that the BMC at LMU was the largest federally supported building project yet undertaken in the area of research facilities. “By providing financial resources for the construction of state-of-the art research facilities, the Federal Government wishes to create the conditions which will enable German universities to compete successfully on the international scene,” he said, adding that the new Center in Munich “will be a source of inspiration” in this regard.

“The Biomedical Center is a landmark project for the life sciences and a central element of the HighTechCampus Martinsried. Close interactions between clinical medicine and basic science promise to produce high-quality insights,” said Dr. Wolfgang Heubisch, Bavarian Minister for Science, Research and the Arts.

“The HighTechCampus at LMU has already established itself among the top research centers in the life sciences worldwide. We are very pleased that the Biomedical Center will also provide a home for the emerging field of applied cell research,” said Professor Bernd Huber, the President of LMU.

The BMC Building
With its 18,000 m² of floor space, the BMC and the in-house Cell Center will afford excellent working conditions for research and education in the biomedical sciences.

Thanks to its location on LMU‘s HighTechCampus, the BMC will slot easily into the outstanding research infrastructure already available onsite. Among its immediate neighbors are the Faculty of Chemistry and Pharmacy with the Gene Center, the Faculty of Biology, the University Medical Center (Großhadern), the Max-Planck-Institutes for Biochemistry and Neurobiology, and the Innovation and Start-up Center for Biotechnology. The BMC will form the northern boundary of the Campus, and its four elements define a broad inner courtyard. The courtyard will be landscaped, providing researchers and students with an attractive open-air meeting-place.

The areas that are accessible to the public, as well as the lecture halls, seminar rooms and teaching laboratories, are all located in the South Wing, which will have a transparent façade. The cafeteria, foyer and main lecture hall are housed on the ground floor and will provide ideal venues for interaction and dialog between researchers, students and members of the public. The library will also be sited on the ground floor of this wing. The laboratories in the new Center will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology and are accommodated in the North and East Wings of the building. This section will also be furnished with a roof-top Technical Center. The BMC is designed to accommodate 500 LMU staff.

The Center for Applied Cell Research in the BMC
How do cells work at the molecular level? The answers to this question will provide the key to a new understanding of tissues, organs and whole organisms in health and disease. This is why the question itself will serve as the focus of research at the Cell Center. In this context, elucidation of the interactions between genetic, epigenetic and environmental factors in the regulatory programming of cellular function is of crucial significance. For example, pathological perturbations of these interactions underlie neurodegenerative diseases that lead to dementia.

Only on the basis of a detailed understanding of the underlying biochemical mechanisms can “molecular medicine” hope to reprogram dysfunctional cells. The goal of the highly integrated and interdisciplinary research projects that will be undertaken at the Cell Center is to provide such comprehensive understanding. These projects will take advantage of established model organisms such as yeast, the fruit-fly, the clawed frog, zebrafish and mouse, as well as human cells. Provision has also been made for centralized facilities that offer specialized support services, such as high-resolution microscopy and modern protein analysis.

To facilitate the translation of new biological insights into clinical practice, preclinical investigators will work in close collaboration with clinical researchers. Physical proximity will foster intensive dialog and rapid transfer of knowledge between the two spheres. This is important, because the potential for practical applications is undeniable. The researchers will direct their attention in particular to the twin tasks of defining the conditions that disrupt the normal programming of cells and lead to tissue degeneration, and developing therapeutic approaches that can reverse or prevent such processes.

In accordance with a recommendation made by the German Council of Science and Humanities, the Cell Center is being financed in equal measure by the Federal Government and the State Government of Bavaria as a Common Research Facility under the terms of Art. 91b of the German Constitution (Basic Law).

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