Earlier this month, the Board of Trustees approved the construction of a $252 million building to house Stanford’s Chemistry, Engineering and Medicine for Human Health (ChEM-H) and Neurosciences Institutes (SNI). Expected to be complete by summer of 2018, the building will be located on West Campus at the site currently occupied by the Cardinal Cogeneration plant.
Demolition of the plant is set to begin in summer of 2015 and continue through summer of 2016. Construction of the new building will then begin and is expected to finish in two years.
With each institute using one wing, the new facility will provide ChEM-H with office space for the four new faculty already hired and the 15 to 16 more faculty members the institute hopes to recruit over the next five to seven years. The space will also include collaborative “Knowledge Centers,” described as “know-how driven facilities” designed to help introduce students and researches to practical problem solving techniques in a field of interest, according to the institute’s director, Chaitan Khosla, professor of chemistry and chemical engineering .
Initially named the Institute for Chemical Biology, Stanford ChEM-H began two years ago as an interdisciplinary research institute aimed at studying the intersection of chemistry, biology, medicine and engineering to understand and advance human health. The institute hopes to challenge the traditional notion of chemistry and biology as two necessarily different disciplines.
Khosla, who has taught Stanford’s introductory Biochemistry course — BIO 188 — for more than 10 years has observed that, when students enter the class, it is their first opportunity to integrate what they’ve learned in chemistry and biology. Through a ground-up approach to an integrative education at the interface of biology and chemistry the institute aims to provide a more fluid understanding of the two disciplines.
“[Students’] education has largely happened in silos with occasional reference to the other,” Khosla said.
The Medicinal Chemistry Knowledge Center, established in 2013 as Stanford’s first Knowledge Center, will move into the building’s first floor. The centers will ideally allow those studying human health to have easier access to the technical innovations and capabilities already developed on campus.
ChEM-H will also partner with the nearby SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory to capitalize on the ability to visualize molecules at an atomic detail.
Though ChEM-H and SNI will function in separate wings, the two institutes will collaborate on areas of common interest such as imaging, computation visualization and other technologies like microscopy. Despite the shared interests, the institute anticipates creating a “compelling, cohesive building to house what at first glance are very diverse institutes” will be a challenge, says project spokesperson Amy Adams.
The SNI wing will be home to gene viral vector, induced pluripotent stem cell and human neuroscience labs as well as a “Theory Center” at the building’s center to connect the building physically and intellectually, Adams said.
Stanford is analyzing data on daylight and its effect on natural lighting and heat transfer to organize the building’s windows, and seeks to minimize laboratory energy and water use. The facility will also house a pub on the first floor.
Contact Sam Premutico at samprem ‘at’ stanford.edu.