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Collaboration Key Part of Design of New Hawaii Medical Research Facilities

HONOLULU, Hawaii - When the new research facility of the University of Hawaii's John A.  Burns Medical School opens in September, there won't be a sign at the front entrance that says 'collaborate,' but that concept will be in the very foundation of the 200,000 square-foot-building.


Last week, officials of the 40-year-old medical school convened the Hawaii Bioscience Conference to celebrate the eminent opening of a state-of-the-art education and research complex on a 10-acre site on the Honolulu waterfront. A 100,000 square-foot education building will welcome students in the spring, and the research facilities will open in the late summer.


The laboratories of the research facilities are being constructed in an open format, said Ed Cadman, the dean of the school and the driver of the project, which he sees as a catalyst for the biotechnology industry in Hawaii.


"The lab workers, PI's and research associates will look out on the ocean and a park," Cadman said. "But it is not going to be individual laboratories. It's a collaborative effort. We need to get researchers involved in collaboration, working together."


A committee of faculty members selected the technology that the school has purchased for support its research efforts in genomics and proteomics, based on, collaboration.


The school has selected Applied Biosystems Expression Analysis gene-expression analysis platform, a decision reached after the school's research faculty evaluated competing technologies.


"[ABI] seemed interested in collaboration and working with us," Richard Lairton, an assistant professor of medicine at the school, told GenomeWeb. "We wanted a partnership and they seemed interested in collaborating in our research and supporting their platform with bioinformatics."


The EA platform will complement the school's ABI DNA sequencing technology as well as Taqman chemistries.


Creating new research facilities at a time when discovery research and clinical research are converging is being reflected in how architects approach their work.


Facilities will have to be increasing flexible to accommodate new tools that are increasingly smaller and more mobile, Angela Kimble of the San Diego-based laboratory design firm Earl Walls Associates, which designed the Salk Institute in La Jolla, Calif.., and has participated in the design of some 1800 scientific research facilities globally.


In today's new science facilities, instrument makers are being asked to be intimately involved in the design process, but, she said, need to gain new communication skills in the planning process.


"They are part of a collaborative team," she said. "They all tell you that they listen, but usually they are so busy pitching their products, they never listen."



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