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USC opens Eli and Edythe Broad CIRM Center

USC Opens Eli and Edythe Broad CIRM Center
From left, Keck School of Medicine Dean Carmen A. Puliafito, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, philanthropists Edythe and Eli Broad, CIRM chairman Robert Klein and USC President C. L. Max Nikias celebrate the opening of the new stem cell center.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger joined USC administrators, trustees, elected public officials and more than 150 invited guests in the dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Eli and Edythe Broad CIRM Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at USC held Oct. 29.

“We are all gathering this morning to celebrate the stem cell research center here at USC,” Schwarzenegger said. “Behind me we see this beautiful building with great architecture, but this is much more than just bricks and mortar. This is an institute of hope — hope for millions of people who suffer from Alzheimer’s, from cancer, from AIDS, from Parkinson’s disease and many other diseases. Here, 18 of the finest scientists in the world along with their research teams will expand the frontiers of science and medicine in pursuit of life-saving cures.”

USC President C. L. Max Nikias and Keck School of Medicine of USC Dean Carmen A. Puliafito hosted the dedication ceremony.

Puliafito introduced the governor by recognizing his great courage in supporting the Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative known as Proposition 71.

“In the fall of 2004, the future of stem cell research in this country was in great peril,” Puliafito said. “It took great courage for the newly elected governor of California to oppose the policy of his party and his president by supporting the Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative. Our governor supported the preservation of human life and the reversal of disability by supporting the promise of stem cell research.”

Nikias characterized the day as “one of the most momentous days in the history of our Health Sciences campus and our Keck School of Medicine.”

He said: “This new center carries out our promise to society. In the future, historians will search for the turning point in the age of medicine and biology. And when they do, they will look to this place, they will look to this time, they will look to this CIRM [California Institute for Regenerative Medicine] center, and they will look to Eli and Edythe Broad. And they will see that what we have done together has changed not only this university, but also the world.”

Eli and Edythe Broad, the building’s namesakes and primary donors, gave $30 million toward its development, which stands as one of the largest gifts given to the Keck School of Medicine in recent years.

“There’s no question that stem cell research has the potential to revolutionize medicine,” said Eli Broad. “I truly believe that biotechnology is one of the areas that are the economic future of this city and this state. We want to be a magnet for biotech talent and business, so we all have high expectations for this new center for stem cell research and regenerative medicine here at USC.”

Construction of the $80 million, five-story, 87,500-square-foot, green-certified building located at 1425 N. San Pablo Ave. started almost exactly two years ago. The building will house an estimated 200 researchers.

Originally conceived in 2005, the project is the product of a public-private partnership between the Keck School, the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and California’s voter-created California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

“The definition of ‘possible’ has changed,” said Robert Klein, CIRM chairman of the Independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee and author of the California ballot initiative that launched CIRM in 2004. “The stem cell revolution has begun. Let us recognize, celebrate and thank the great scientists and postdocs and grad students who are the real heroes in this fundamental struggle against history’s plight of mankind with chronic disease,” he said.

An estimated 200 persons gathered for the outdoor ceremonies, including several dozen scientists, postdocs and grad students who will work inside the new facility. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was followed by a tour of the building’s research labs and a luncheon for invited guests.

Other notables in attendance included U.S. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard; California State Sen. Art Torres (ret.); Edward Roski, Jr., chairman of the USC Board of Trustees; and USC trustees Malcolm Currie, David Lee, Al Mann, Harlyne Norris and Lorna Reed.

The stem cell center is the first building on the USC Health Sciences campus to receive a silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design designation based on the structure’s unique eco-friendly features. It incorporates an ultra-clear glass and black granite façade.

The building is a cornerstone in the biomedical research corridor on USC’s Health Sciences campus that includes the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute, USC University Hospital and the Norris Comprehensive Care Center and Hospital.

“You will see today that our new building is not only a first-class research facility, but also a stunning architectural statement,” said Martin Pera, founding director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at USC. “As we work together, Los Angeles can be truly a world-class center for regenerative medicine.”

Architects for the project are ZGF Architects. The builder is Morley Construction Co.

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