Burnham Institute for Medical Research commemorated the completion of its new facility on Friday, as scientists received the key to the new research building from Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Richard T. Crotty.
Burnham is the first facility to be completed at the new “medical city” at Lake Nona, which will include the UCF College of Medicine, Nemours Children’s Hospital, VA Medical Center, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Orlando and a proposed University of Florida research facility.
"Today we turn our focus from building the facilities needed to accommodate science to actually doing the life-saving science for which Burnham is so well known”, said Dr. John Reed, Burnham’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “When this building is fully occupied, it will house the activities of 350 world class scientists and supporting professionals striving to unlock the mysteries of disease and provide the innovative new therapies of tomorrow. The opening of our first laboratory facility at Lake Nona is a wonderful milestone for our organization – a project that was brought to completion on-plan, on-time, and on-budget thanks to the dedicated efforts of our team at Burnham and our many marvelous partners here in Central Florida.
Attracting Burnham to Central Florida was the result of tremendous collaboration between public and private sectors. Mayor Dyer said,” There is no better example of the power of cooperation than the Burnham Institute.” The benefit that Burnham will bring to the community extends beyond diversifying the location economy noted Mayor Crotty. “There are going to be lives saved worldwide because of the research being done in this building.”
Burnham’s 175,000 sq. ft. building is the largest private research facility in the state that is tracking toward a gold level Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. Building an energy-efficient scientific building in Florida offered unique challenges including optimizing sunlight and managing the lab’s extensive air supply and exhaust requirements. Burnham will receive its formal certification in several months after LEED credits are tallied. Those credits are based on the facility’s “green” design and construction, such as, diverting 95% of construction waste from landfills, reducing energy costs by 25%, sourcing construction materials regionally and sourcing 50% of all wood products from sustainably-farmed forests.
The design, by architects Perkins+Will, fosters connectivity, with open labs that encourage conversation and collaboration between scientists to speed discoveries. Live video connections available 24/7 give researchers a “window into science,” and a high speed data network will share huge volumes of data with scientists worldwide.
The building design reflects Burnham’s approach to medical research, which is based on “making connections” between scientific areas and diseases. The new institute will house a variety of specialists, from biochemists to molecular biologists, pharmacologists to medicinal chemists. "We've assembled a cross-disciplinary team of scientists that will focus not only on their area of expertise but also on areas of overlap between diseases, such as the diabetes and cardiovascular disease," states Dr. Daniel P. Kelly, Burnham’s Scientific Director.
Burnham will contain the most advanced scientific technologies in the not-for-profit research world, including an ultra-high throughput chemical screening system for identification of compounds useful in drug development. The building was completed on-schedule and on-budget and, when open, will have contributed almost $85 million to the local economy.