An array of innovation-focused New Jerseyans - scientists, student researchers, alumni, company executives and elected officials – gathered on campus today to hail the much-anticipated opening of NJIT’s new Life Sciences and Engineering Center, a $21 million state-of-the-art research facility focused on the future of health care.
“This is an exciting time in biomedical engineering,” noted Treena Livingston Arinzeh, director of NJIT’s Tissue Engineering and Applied Biomaterials Laboratory, in pointing to the recent plethora of game-changing health technologies such as gene editing, cell therapy, nanoparticle technology and regenerative medicine. “But all of these approaches require multidisciplinary teams, coming together from disparate fields.”
The new center promises to provide those crucial opportunities. The four-story facility, which houses more than 20,000 square feet of shared laboratories and meeting spaces, IT infrastructure and cutting-edge scientific instrumentation, is designed to promote collaboration in fields ranging from biomedical engineering and the biological sciences to electrical engineering and healthcare technologies.
Its mission is to build on NJIT’s increasingly transdisciplinary strengths in engineering and the life sciences – with a particular focus on biotechnology, biosensors and medical devices and nanotechnology – toward the development of new applications in clinical healthcare, therapeutic interventions and pharmaceutical drug development. By linking the experimental side of research with powerful computation, NJIT and its partners will feed data generated in the university’s laboratories into computer models and simulations that will, for example, be able to forecast molecular, cellular and tissue behavior for clinical applications.
“The name “Life Sciences and Engineering Center” tells you how important the marriage of those two disciplines is,” Matthew Kuriakose ’10, (above) a Ph.D. student in biomedical engineering who researches traumatic brain injury (TBI), said at the ribbon-cutting.
“I see the open lab space and get excited about potential collaborative efforts,” he added. “Some of my greatest research revelations and scientific breakthroughs were born from organic conversations with other graduate students outside of TBI. If we’re really serious about solving problems, we will need this multidisciplinary collaboration.”
NJIT President Joel Bloom, who was joined today by members of several of NJIT’s governance boards, called the facility “a critical step forward for our university.”
The new structure connects to the Otto H. York Center for Environmental Engineering and Science to form a cohesive complex that increases square footage by 57 percent and leaves room for a 47,000-square-foot expansion in the future. Additionally, a two-story atrium and presentation space provides opportunities for informal learning, gathering and teaching. The new facility also offers monumental stairs with seating, a new exterior plaza and a second-floor lounge area, giving students more options for cozy nooks in which to study, read and relax. It is part of an ongoing, $300 million capital building and renovation program that is transforming research, teaching and campus life at NJIT.
But guests such as Paul Sarlo ’92, ’95, the deputy majority leader of the New Jersey Senate, Mildred Crump, president of the Newark City Council and Gov. Chris Christie, attested to its importance to the region and the state as well.
“We don’t want our best and brightest students to leave the state and not come back,” said Christie (below), who in 2012 signed the “Building Our Future” bond act that gave rise to state-of-the-art facilities on college campuses across the state that are advancing learning and research, and critically, boosting capacity.
Of the state’s largest city, where he was born, he added, “It’s so important to make Newark a magnet for higher ed.”
Over the summer, NJIT continued to make headway on campus-wide renovation and construction projects across the campus, including two major facilities: the state-supported Makerspace at NJIT, a 9,500-square-foot facility that will bring inventors and manufacturers onto campus and provide them access to equipment to build and test prototypes of innovative products, and the 200,000-square-foot Wellness and Events Center, slated to open in November.