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Cleveland Clinic to Hire Four Researchers, Renovate Lab Space with $2M Stimulus Grant

By Alex Philippidis

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Cleveland Clinic will add four researchers to its Taussig Cancer Institute, among 17 people to be hired over the next three years as a result of a renovation and expansion project for which the institute has won $2 million in federal stimulus funding.

The four are among 17 new hires planned for the Taussig Cancer Institute by 2013, with the remainder to include 12 technical support staffers and an administrative assistant. The 17 will join some 42 researchers and technicians, and six administrative staffers, now working at Taussig.

The NIH's National Center for Research Resources awarded the grant — funded through the $862 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — with the goal of refurbishing a portion of Cleveland Clinic's original campus that has gone unused for about a decade, following dedication of Taussig's current 165,000-square-foot facility in 2000.

The grant is expected to cover almost all of the project, but did not allow for funding the "minimal additional" cost of movable equipment, artwork, and furnishings such as chairs for labs and offices, John Pellecchia, administrator of Taussig's Department of Translational Hematology and Oncology Research, told GenomeWeb Daily News.

Part of the project consists of renovating the original 3,600 square feet of lab space — completed at Cleveland Clinic's main campus in 1928 and last refurbished in the 1950s. Taussig has just begun the design phase of the work.

"We're anticipating completing both the design and construction of the facility during the second half of 2011," Pellecchia said.

Pellecchia said the renovated space will house four new labs, to be assigned to each of the four new researchers to be recruited. The research specialties of the four have yet to be determined.

"We're looking more at individuals that, regardless of the specific cancer, are interested in looking at molecular targets, tumor markers that help aid in diagnosis and prognosis of cancer," said Pellecchia. "It could be solid tumors such as breast or lung. It could be hematologic researchers that we recruit down the road.

"We have 10 laboratories filled with about 50 individuals currently," he added. "Further growth of our department, which includes planned recruitment, has been impeded by a shortage of laboratory space to be assigned to new investigators."

Major fixed equipment included in the grant included tissue culture and chemical fume hoods for each of the four new labs, as well as a centralized glassware washing system, along with an autoclave sterilization system, a centralized water purification system for the floor, and a walk-in cold room.

The project also includes the creation of a shared instrumentation room that, according to Pellecchia, will be the new home for three pieces of existing equipment — a Veridex CellSearch Circulating Tumor Cell Test, a flow cytometer, and a multispectral imaging camera.

"What we're doing now is using one of our current laboratories in our assigned space to house a lot of this stuff. We'll be able to move it into the new area, and free up this 500 square foot area" for conversion back to an additional lab, Pellecchia said.

It has not been decided if that lab will be assigned to a current researcher or a new hire, he said.

Taussig — whose more than 250 specialists serve more than 26,000 cancer patients annually — is one of 26 institutes that comprise Cleveland Clinic, a not-for-profit academic medical center founded in 1921.

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