[caption id="attachment_219631" align="aligncenter" width="1081"] The unnamed project to replace McKinly Lab will create a new disease and disorder research lab at the University of Delaware. | PHOTO COURTESY OF UD[/caption]
NEWARK – The University of Delaware revealed plans this week for a $165 million project that would raze the shuttered McKinly Lab on its central campus and build a new state-of-the-art interdisciplinary lab aimed at the study of disease and developmental disorders.The lab along Delaware Avenue across from the Main Street Galleria has been unoccupied since an August 2017 fire sparked by renovations caused fire, smoke and water damage in the building. At the time, McKinly Lab housed the Department of Biological Sciences, as well as the Biomechanics & Movement Science Program, the Center for the Study of Diversity and the Center for Global and Area Studies, all of which had to be relocated to other buildings on the campus.
[caption id="attachment_219630" align="alignleft" width="300"] The McKinly Lab replacement project will include a new green between university buildings, building out green space on the Newark campus. | PHOTO COURTESY OF UD[/caption]
Although university officials have long sought to redevelop McKinly back into a usable facility, it sought to develop a funding plan and a focus for its research. The COVID-19 pandemic helped solve both of those questions.Gov. John Carney announced Wednesday that the state will dedicate $41 million in federal stimulus funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to support the building of the facility, or about a quarter of the project’s cost. The remaining $124 million in project cost will be borne by the university with some likely to be fundraised through donors with the possibility of naming rights, said Charlie Riordan, the university’s vice president for research, scholarship and innovation.UD built the Ammon Pinizzotto Biopharmaceutical Innovation Center on the STAR Campus in the last few years in the same manner. Retired pharmaceutical executive and nurse Carol A. Ammon and obstetrician/gynecologist Marie E. Pinizzotto collectively donated $25 million toward that project and were granted naming rights.In a statement, UD President Dennis Assanis thanked the Carney administration and Delaware’s congressional delegation for the capital funding, saying it will help educate more than 1,000 students a year in critical areas of health care.“By enhancing collaborative partnerships within the state and beyond, this new facility will be an invaluable asset for our entire community for generations to come,” he added.
[caption id="attachment_219632" align="alignright" width="300"] The new lab will combined biological sciences and psychological and brain sciences disciplines for research and studies. | PHOTO COURTESY OF UD[/caption]
The yet-to-be-named new laboratory will mark the return of the departments of biological sciences and psychological and brain sciences, officials said. Demolition of McKinly Lab is scheduled to begin this spring, with construction of the new facility aiming to conclude in mid-2024, in time for 2024-25 school year.“We're really envisioning this as a research and education building, where the work will impact advances in biotechnology, biopharmaceutical discovery, and our understanding of the treatment and prevention of diseases,” Riordan told Delaware Business Times. “There's going to be a special focus on issues like adolescent mental health and racial disparities in clinical care.”Riordan said the facility is responding to increasing needs that Delaware has for workforce development in these areas, a need that has only grown amid the pandemic as thousands of veteran health care workers have retired or left their positions. UD graduates and undergraduate interns have long worked at health systems like ChristianaCare, Nemours Children’s Health, Bayhealth, the Wilmington VA Medical Center, and the Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth, and Their Families, among other providers. “What we've heard for quite some time from a number of these partners is this workforce need,” Riordan said, noting that the new center will help train needed disciplines.The ARPA investment in UD’s project was not the only one announced Wednesday, as Carney also unveiled $33 million allocations to both Delaware State University and Delaware Technical Community College.DSU will spend $10.6 million in support of its previously announced Early Care and Innovation Center, $7 million to establish a comprehensive clinical facility to combat health disparities, housed at the DSU Center for Health Disparities’ Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory in Dover, and $9.9 million in facility and technology upgrades on its campuses.Meanwhile, DTCC will spend $15 million at its Allied Health Center of Excellence in Wilmington to expand access to its paramedic instructional program and surgical technology program at the site to meet growing workforce demand. It will also spend $6.5 million to build a Childcare Center on the Stanton campus, serving the general public’s daycare needs, and $1.5 million for a culinary workforce development grant. “A new world class infectious disease lab will place Delaware at the forefront of cutting-edge research as we develop ways to help protect the health of our families. The COVID-19 pandemic has ripped the curtain back on the glaring health disparities our different communities are experiencing. These investments with funds from the American Rescue Plan Act will go a long way toward eliminating those inequities, while building and expanding a workforce of healthcare professionals and childcare workers to support that mission,” said Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long, who is also a registered nurse, in a statement announcing the funding.