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New medical building symbolizes partnership

October 18, 2007

Calling it an epicenter of endeavors to help spawn a new era in the advance of modern medicine, ASU President Michael Crow joined state government and higher education leaders Oct. 15 to officially open the Arizona Biomedical Collaborative building No. 1 (ABC 1) in downtown Phoenix.

The new $29.6 million building is on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, home to the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix in partnership with Arizona State University.

The campus is being developed by the city of Phoenix, the Arizona Board of Regents and the two state universities.

ABC 1 is shared by ASU’s Department of Biomedical Informatics, part of the School of Computing and Informatics in the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering, and the new UA Department of Basic Medical Sciences.

UA President Robert Shelton echoed Arizona Board of Regents President Fred Boyce and regent Gary Stuart in hailing the project as a critical step forward for a “historic and powerful collaboration” between the universities, cementing a partnership that “is dedicated to improving the human condition.”

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon emphasized the project’s importance as a major step in establishing the greater Phoenix area and Arizona as a strong competitor in the “knowledge economy.”

Gordon noted the numeral “1” in the title of the building, pointing out that it is only one of several planned expansions of campus facilities.
State Sen. Jake Flake and Rep. Bob Robson spoke of the work of state legislators to build support – despite state budgetary pressures – for development of the biomedical campus as part of an investment of more than $400 million in research facility construction for the three state universities.

Some of that funding has provided the 85,000-square-foot ABC 1 with what Edward Shortliffe, dean of the College of Medicine – Phoenix, has described as the “most impressive research space dedicated to biomedical informatics at any university in the country.”

Shortliffe, also a professor in the ASU biomedical informatics program, is the former chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics at Columbia University and former head of the Biomedical Informatics Program at Stanford University.

The building provides teaching and research facilities for ASU’s biomedical informatics program to meld information technology, biology, statistics, cognitive science and psychology, computer science and engineering, and biomedical and social sciences.

The program recently lured Robert Greenes – after some 40 years working in the Harvard University medical community – to chair the biomedical informatics department, which welcomed its first 13 students this semester.

The department is designed to contribute to advancing “personalized,” or “customized” medicine, and development of electronic medical records systems, says Sethuraman Panchanathan, director of ASU’s School of Computing and Informatics.

ABC1 also will house facilities for UA’s Department of Basic Medical Studies, enabling medical students to be involved in studies for the prevention and treatment of stroke, heart disease, cancer, neurological and behavioral diseases, bone and mineral disorders, obesity and diabetes.

Video link:
Grand Opening of the Arizona Biomedical Collaborative [ABC1] Building