UConn Health Ceremony Heralds Success of Bioscience Connecticut

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, right, speaks with Dr. Bruce T. Liang, left, and Dr. Andrew Agwunobi, during a ceremony at UConn Health Thursday to celebrate the opening of new biotechnology research space as part of the Bioscience Connecticut initiative. (Janine Gelineau/UConn Health Photo)
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, right, speaks with Dr. Bruce T. Liang, left, dean of the UConn School of Medicine, and Dr. Andrew Agwunobi, UConn Health’s CEO and executive vice president for health affairs, during a ceremony at UConn Health Thursday to celebrate the opening of new biotechnology research space as part of the Bioscience Connecticut initiative. (Janine Gelineau/UConn Health Photo)

Five years after the launch of the major economic and employment initiative Bioscience Connecticut, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and a cadre of legislators joined University leaders for a ribbon cutting to celebrate the most recent project funded by the effort.

The Sept. 22 ceremony at UConn Health officially opened extensive new research space – 28,000 square feet comprised of 32 laboratories and 40 offices – dedicated to developing new biotechnology concepts into businesses.

Approved in 2011, Bioscience Connecticut allocated $864 million to efforts that would position the state to be a leader in bioscience research and improve residents’ access to world-class medicine. Twenty-one biotech startup companies are now housed on the UConn Health campus, one of three sites in Connecticut for UConn’s Technology Incubator Program (TIP).

“We are happy to report that with your support, UConn Health has reached several major Bioscience Connecticut milestones since breaking ground just over four years ago,” said UConn President Susan Herbst. “These projects have helped fuel the economy, grow our research and the biotech industry, and speed product development – leading to increased financial investments back into our state.”

Through TIP, young biotech startup companies have access to state-of-the-art equipment, tools, experts, and shared resources at UConn. TIP offers affordable leases to help accelerate the research, growth, and development of promising innovations, and their path to commercialization. Experienced and skillfully trained graduate and undergraduate students support the new biotech company’s workforce through the TIP Summer Intern Program.

Since 2003, the more than 85 TIP companies have raised more than $50 million in supportive grant funding for their promising products and innovations and more than $45 million in revenue, said Jeffrey Seemann, vice president for research at UConn.

“It’s a critically important part of our economic development activities, and it is the place where UConn will help drive the innovation economy of Connecticut by translating the investments of Bioscience Connecticut and Next Gen Connecticut into research and the creation of new high-tech companies and high-wage jobs,” Seemann said.

Bioscience Connecticut Milestones

Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, legislators toured several sites at UConn Health funded by the initiative. Building projects under Bioscience Connecticut have transformed and modernized the campus, officials noted. These include:

  • UConn Health’s state-of-the-art Academic Rotunda, a 17,000-square-foot team-based learning classroom, which welcomed 49 new dental students and 100 medical students, the largest incoming classes in the UConn Health’s history. Under the initiative, UConn Health launched an innovative new curriculum and a new method of teaching: Team-based learning, where medical, dental, and other professional health students learn together, said Dr. Bruce T. Liang, dean of the UConn School of Medicine. To meet Bioscience Connecticut’s goal of making the state a leader in medical education, UConn’s medical school will be slowly increasing its class sizes in the coming years to 110 students.
  • The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine, an 189,000-square-foot building opened in 2014, allows for a unique research partnership to blossom between UConn Health and JAX, accelerating personalized genomics and translational research, and the recruitment of 256 new employees, including several joint  faculty.
  • The 300,000-square-foot Outpatient Pavilion that opened its doors in the winter of 2015. The facility offers a full range of primary care and specialty care services all in one modern, convenient location, and serves more than 12,000 patients monthly. The building, named best in ‘New Construction’ by the Connecticut Building Congress, brings together a family medicine practice and a new comprehensive Women’s Center.
  • UConn John Dempsey Hospital’s new patient tower, which creates an environment centered on providing patients with state-of-the-art health care and technology, and a more soothing and healing experience. Natural light pours in to all 169 private patient rooms representing each of the towns in the state. The tower has a new Emergency Department with its own patient and ambulance entrances; a dedicated floor for the Intensive Care Unit; and 10 operating rooms.

“Connecticut has a talented and thriving bioscience workforce,” Malloy said. “Currently, bioscience employs approximately 24,000 people in our state, at hundreds of companies across the state. These jobs generate an additional 40,000 indirect jobs in our state, and as some of you know, these are highly paid jobs.”