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A Peabody Museum curatorial assistant examines some of the 9,000 specimens in the National Cleared Leaf Collection, which is kept in the Collections Storage Room in The Class of 1954 Environmental Studies Center. To preserve the Peabody's 200,000 fossil plants, the room is kept at 60 degrees (hence the need for a vest).

Building for State-of-the-Art Research

Yale's $1 billion commitment to promote its basic science, engineering and biomedical research programs is beginning to take shape.

Yale researchers, students and curators are pursuing their studies of the natural world in the newest facility on Science Hill, The Class of 1954 Environmental Science Center, which opened last fall. The ever-growing number of collaborations between Science Hill and the Medical Campus will be further enhanced with the completion next year of the $176 million state-of-the-art facility on Congress Avenue, and the University is investing over $200 million to strengthen its science and medical facilities dedicated to genetic and proteomic research.

Environmental Science Center: Fostering Understanding of the Natural World

Described as a "gateway to Science Hill," the Class of 1954 Environmental Science Center is playing a central role in Yale's effort to illuminate humans' understanding of the natural world and how it can best be sustained through sound management and wise public policy.

The center is designed to encourage collaboration among faculty and students pursuing environmental studies, while placing the collections of Yale's Peabody Museum of Natural History at their fingertips.

"Over the next two years, the Peabody's staff will move several million specimens into the building," said Richard L. Burger, the museum's outgoing director (see related story). "To give you some idea of their volume, these materials could fill some 56 tractor trailers."

In addition to housing curators, staff and collections of the Peabody Museum, the center provides laboratories, classrooms, offices and curatorial spaces. It is the home of the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies and accommodates the faculty and students from the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences' Departments of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Geology and Geophysics, and Anthropology.

According to President Richard C. Levin, "The Class of 1954 Environmental Science Center brings faculty and students from different departments and schools together to foster discovery and learning that will add to our knowledge and appreciation of the biosphere. It is the first milestone in our ambitious plan to ensure that Yale's fourth century brings continued advancement in science and engineering."

The building is named for the Yale College Class of 1954, which gave the University $70 million in 2000 to support new science buildings and other major Yale priorities. The Environmental Science Center was supported with $25 million from the Class of 1954 gift. The Environmental Science Center is the first of five new buildings to support the sciences at Yale. In addition, new buildings will be constructed for chemistry, engineering, forestry & environmental studies, and molecular, cellular and developmental biology.

At the building's dedication ceremony last fall, speakers reflected on the new building's role as a spur to collaboration among scholars and students in different environmental disciplines.

"Science Hill is evolving into a hub for the interdisciplinary study of and research on environmental issues," said James Gustave Speth, dean of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

Congress Avenue Building: Employing Technology in Fight Against Disease

Researchers will further understanding about the causes and possible treatments of devastating diseases in the Congress Avenue Building, part of Yale's $500 million investment for new and reconstructed biomedical research facilities over the next 10 years.

The new building -- located at the corner of Congress Avenue and Cedar Street -- will furnish six floors of laboratories for disease-oriented research, as well as core research resources and teaching facilities. When complete, the 450,0000-square-foot structure will provide technologically sophisticated workspace for almost 700 researchers. Among the research programs housed there will be initiatives addressing such diseases as arthritis and autoimmune disorders, asthma and lung disease, hypertension and kidney failure, infectious disease, and vascular disease and heart conditions.

The building will also include an animal resources center and a magnetic resonance center. In the last two decades, magnetic resonance has become a crucial tool for the study of tissues and organs in living organisms. The technology has allowed breakthroughs in fields ranging from neurosurgery to psychiatry, and Yale is at the forefront of this rapidly developing area.

Center for Genomics and Proteomics:
Unraveling the Complexities of Living Things

The Center for Genomics and Proteomics will be devoted to determining how the genes and proteins encoded by different organisms are regulated and how they work together to mediate complex biological processes. This information will help researchers understand basic biological processes, and the diversity of life and its origins, which will some day aid in the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

The new $200 million center -- part of the University's original commitment to investing $1 billion in science, engineering and medical facilities -- "will bring together scientists across the University to apply new technologies to the exploration of basic questions in biology and disease processes," said President Richard C. Levin.

The money will support a "center without walls," which will include new facilities and the renovation of existing facilities for research in genomics and proteomics.

The goal of the center is to foster an environment where researchers can have access to resources and equipment that will help them attract funding for research in genomics and proteomics. Yale is trying to encourage this kind of research, and many Yale projects have already begun to acquire outside funding. One of these research projects is the National Human Genome Research Institute's $15 million grant to fund a Center of Excellence in Genomic Sciences. Another project funded by the National Institutes of Health is the $1.3 million grant to support a Center of Excellence in Biomedical Computing. (See related stories.) Through the Yale-funded Center for Genomics and Proteomics, such external funding is expected to grow significantly.

In addition, Yale expects to dedicate over $23 million for faculty recruitment and the development of programs in these areas over the next three to five years.

"This is an exciting opportunity to be able to catalog and study all the genes," says the new center's director, Michael Snyder, professor and chair of molecular, cellular and developmental biology.

The center will help develop innovative technologies for analyzing genomes and proteomes and applying this knowledge to the improvement of human health; maximize communication and collaboration among scientists at Yale and at peer institutions; and develop a teaching and training program that meets the future needs of the field.

"The School of Medicine is excited to be a part of this collaborative effort," says Dr. David Kessler, dean of Yale's School of Medicine. "The marriage of basic science and medicine will produce cutting-edge results."


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