On Wednesday, University administrators dedicated the Lorry I. Lokey Stem Cell Research Building, the newest addition to the School of Medicine, before a crowd of almost 400.
The building dedication marked “an opportunity for transformation, not only for Stanford, but also for the state and the nation,” said Philip Pizzo, dean of the Stanford School of Medicine.
The $225 million building was realized with $75 million of financial support from businessman and philanthropist Lorry Lokey ’49, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and other generous supporters. (The Daily building is also named after Lokey, who donated money to its construction.)
“Due to its funding, the facility has the historic opportunity to reduce human suffering outside of politics,” said Robert Klein ’67 J.D. ’70, the chair of the governing board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), which contributed $43.6 million to the building.
The 200,000-square-foot facility, which broke ground two years ago, was a “high priority for Stanford,” according to University President John Hennessy. The sense of urgency surrounding its construction was fueled by the belief that lives are at stake.
Since the first isolation of an adult human stem cell 22 years ago at Stanford, the stem cell field has greatly expanded. As stem cell research expands, the field has the potential to affect the length and quality of human life, according to Lokey.
“If science tells us our bodies are meant for a hundred years, why [can’t] we all [get] there eventually?” he asked. “This life is too rewarding and good to leave too early.”
With the accelerating nature of the field in mind, the facility was designed with flexibility to allow it to evolve along with the science.
The building houses 33 research labs, making it the largest stem cell research facility in the nation. The labs are designed as integrated neighborhoods to promote interdisciplinary collaboration.
Here, medicine and engineering can merge to share discoveries and push the frontier of knowledge, Hennessy said.
“In all of human history we have never had the ability to create a human cell,” Klein said. “In all of the generations of science, this is a critical new frontier. In 20 years you will not recognize the practice of medicine.”
Current Stanford research focuses on a variety of adult stem cells, embryonic stem cells, cancer stem cells and more. Targeted diseases of regenerative research include acute myeloid leukemia, type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis, acute cerebral ischemia, sickle cell anemia and Parkinson’s disease.
“If in 10 years, 200 million people have benefited from the research at this facility, then the $200 million put in averages out to a dollar per person,” Lokey said. “That’s not bad.”
To stem cell researchers at Stanford, the 2004 passing of Proposition 71, which supports stem cell research and facilities, was indicative of the promise of future funding and security within their field. The proposition created CIRM, which finances stem cell research and establishes regulatory standards within the field.
“Through Proposition 71, California became a beacon for making life better for people through discovery and science,” Hennessy said.
“The stem cell revolution has begun in California,” Klein added.
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