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Brand-New Silverman Hall Encourages Medical Discoveries at the Edges

New building opens with 245 researchers in chemistry, biology and engineering

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November 4, 2009 | by Megan Fellman

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The Richard and Barbara Silverman Hall for Molecular Therapeutics and Diagnostics, a new building that will encourage discoveries at the intersections of multiple scientific disciplines, will be dedicated Thursday, Nov. 12, at Northwestern University. 

Silverman Hall will be home to the Chemistry of Life Processes Institute (CLP) and approximately 245 researchers and staff in 17 research groups. The facility will bring together faculty, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, staff and undergraduates from the physical sciences, engineering and life sciences to address fundamental questions in biomedical research and develop new medicines and diagnostics. 

"Acting as an umbrella for a variety of centers, the Chemistry of Life Processes Institute will facilitate collaborations among -- and help bridge -- different cultures," said Thomas V. O'Halloran, director of the institute and the Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. "By lowering the barriers to scientific discovery, we hope, for example, to design new drugs for the treatment of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases as well as develop improved techniques for early-stage diagnosis of disease." 

The dedication of the $100 million building will be held at 5 p.m. at the main entrance at 2170 Campus Drive on the Evanston campus. Northwestern President Morton Schapiro and Professor O'Halloran will make remarks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. A reception will follow. The Northwestern community is invited to attend.

"Silverman Hall will provide state-of-the-art facilities for the important research that is being done at Northwestern," said President Schapiro. "The interdisciplinary approach to research and teaching that is a hallmark of Northwestern will be greatly enhanced by this wonderful new building."

The building is named for Richard B. Silverman, the John Evans Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, and his wife, Barbara. Silverman donated to the University a portion of the royalties that he receives from sales of the drug Lyrica to help fund construction of the building. In 1989 Silverman and his Northwestern research group first synthesized an organic molecule, which ultimately was marketed as Lyrica. The drug, sold by Pfizer, Inc., is used to combat epilepsy, neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia. 

The Chemistry of Life Processes Institute played an instrumental role in the planning of Silverman Hall by bringing together interdisciplinary teams of scientists, including chemists, biologists, physicians, computational scientists and engineers, to aid in the design and development of the laboratories and instrumentation facilities.  

Silverman Hall is designed to enhance interactions and collaborations among colleagues. A variety of meeting rooms and gathering places, including two two-story interaction spaces, will encourage both spontaneous and planned discussions among research groups and across disciplines. 

Totaling 147,000 gross square feet, the building has four stories above ground and one below. Each of the five floors has state-of-the-art research laboratories and student offices; faculty offices are located on the third and fourth floors. 

The building is directly integrated with other science and engineering buildings on the north part of the Evanston campus. The east side of Silverman Hall connects to Pancoe-NorthShore University HealthSystems Life Sciences Pavilion, and the west side connects on all five floors to Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Hall. A two-story pedestrian bridge filled with open interaction spaces, conference rooms and faculty office suites connects the two sides. 

CLP's cutting-edge instrumentation for imaging, proteomics and genomics, synthesis, computational bioinformatics, robotic screening and drug discovery is housed in shared facilities that enable new types of interdisciplinary research. For example, the 10,000 square foot state-of-the-art Center for Advanced Molecular Imaging designed by Thomas Meade, Eileen Foell Professor in Cancer Research in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and the Feinberg School of Medicine, will allow researchers from all of Northwestern's colleges to image molecules, chemical reactions and magnetic resonance contrast agents in living organisms in real time. 

In accordance with Northwestern's policy of using environmentally sustainable design for its new buildings, Silverman Hall has been designed as a green building. The University expects the building to receive Gold Level certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. 

Zimmer Gunsul Fransca Partnership, the same firm that designed Ryan Hall and Pancoe-NSUHS, designed the new building.

Topics: University