UR to Name Medical Research Building In Honor of Nobel-Prize-winning Alumnus

May 14, 1999

On Friday evening, Dr. Arthur Kornberg will present his Nobel Prize to the University of Rochester for permanent display in the new building that will bear his name.

The University of Rochester Medical Center will announce on Friday evening, May 14, that it will name its new medical research building in honor of Dr. Arthur Kornberg, a 1941 graduate of the UR medical school and 1959 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Medicine.

Kornberg, who is currently professor emeritus of Biochemistry at Stanford University, is regarded as one of the 20th century's most influential scientists. In the 1950s he unraveled the chemical steps by which living cells replicate DNA, the genetic "blue print" of all forms of life. After discovering the process of DNA replication, Kornberg became the first scientist to synthesize DNA in a test tube - a feat that stands as one of the most important achievements in science.

This work, for which Kornberg received the Nobel Prize, helped ignite the biotechnology revolution that has led to the development of new drugs used in the treatment of cancer, AIDS, diabetes, and other diseases.

"Dr. Kornberg is an icon that represents what we hope to accomplish in this building - the pursuit of science that leads to new treatments and cures for diseases," said Jay H. Stein, M.D., senior vice president and vice provost for Health Affairs at the University of Rochester and chief executive officer of the University of Rochester Medical Center and Strong Health system.

"We are very proud of the fact that Dr. Kornberg began his career by earning his medical degree at the University of Rochester," Stein added. "Having his name on this building will be an inspiration to researchers throughout the Medical Center, and to students who come here to study science and medicine."

The new building will be named the Arthur Kornberg Medical Research Building. At the ceremony to announce the naming of the building on Friday evening, Dr. Kornberg will present his Nobel Prize to the University of Rochester, where it will be permanently displayed in the lobby of the new building. The four-story, 240,000-square-foot building, located at the corner of Elmwood Avenue and Lattimore Road, will open this fall.

What will be in the new building?

The Arthur Kornberg Medical Research Building will house the Medical Center's new research institute, the Aab Institute of Biomedical Sciences.

The Institute is the centerpiece of a ten-year, $400 million plan to dramatically expand the medical research program at the University. Approximately 70 medical scientists and 400 technicians and support personnel will be hired for the Institute, which will complement the Medical Center's existing research programs. The expansion represents the largest recruitment effort at the University since the School of Medicine and Dentistry was founded in 1924.

The Institute will consist of six research centers, each dedicated to a specific area of medical research. They are:

  • The Center for Aging and Developmental Biology
  • The Center for Cancer Biology
  • The Center for Cardiovascular Research
  • The Center for Human Genetics and Molecular Pediatric Diseases
  • The Center for Oral Biology
  • The Center for Vaccine Biology and Immunology

Each center will consist of a "cluster" of eight to 12 scientists and physicians supported by approximately 25 to 40 technicians and staff. Five prominent scientists have been selected to lead centers within the Institute, and a nation-wide recruiting effort is underway to attract dozens of other scientists to Rochester.

In each of the Institute's research centers, scientists will be engaged in a two-part research strategy. First, they will study the workings of the human body at the most basic level - that of molecules and genes - to learn how the body's normal function is sabotaged by diseases - such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, and AIDS. Then, with a clearer understanding of the mechanisms by which diseases attack the body, the scientists will attempt to devise new approaches to treat the diseases - or to prevent them from striking altogether.

Benefits to the Rochester community

The Medical Center is working aggressively to recruit some of the nation's top physicians and scientists to staff the new research institute - an endeavor that has important implications for the health of the community.

"The Institute will give people in Rochester access to some of the nation's foremost experts in a variety of medical specialties - including aging, heart disease, cancer, pediatrics, dentistry, and infectious diseases," said Stein. "We're building on an outstanding core of talent that already exists at the Medical Center in these fields. The result will be a world-class powerhouse of medical expertise here in Rochester."

In addition, new treatments that are developed in the research institute will likely be available to people in the Rochester area first - in some cases years before those treatments are made available at most hospitals around the nation.

"New treatments for diseases are what draw patients to the nation's top medical centers," said Stein. "Many hospitals provide excellent medical care. But the medical centers that are ranked as the nation's best are the ones that have solid research programs that find new and better ways to fight disease. The development of our research institute moves the University of Rochester a step closer toward a place among those premier medical centers."

In addition to bringing new medical expertise to Rochester, the development of the research institute will contribute substantially to the Rochester economy. The research institute will create 250 high-skill jobs at the Medical Center. According to a study conducted last year by the Center for Governmental Research, Inc., the research institute will contribute $52 million annually to the local economy by 2001, and $75 million annually by 2006. Construction of the building which will house the research institute will generate $40 million in labor compensation to area workers.

Fundraising campaign seeks to raise $35 million

When construction on the new research building began in 1997, the Medical Center launched a major fundraising campaign, named the Campaign for Discovery, to raise $35 million to help establish the research institute. The campaign, which is being co-chaired by Rochester businessmen Robert Gutkin and Robert Hurlbut, has raised $26 million toward this goal. The funds will help pay for construction of the new research building, the hiring of scientists, and the purchase of laboratory equipment.

"People in the community have demonstrated tremendous support for the Medical Center's efforts," said Gutkin. "It's clear that the people view the Medical Center as an important asset to the community. They want to get behind the effort to bring some of the nation's top physicians and medical researchers to Rochester."

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