MCG plans new research building

Medical College of Georgia’s research funding has escalated but its lab space has not, which is why the school should seek to add another research building, MCG School of Medicine Dean D. Douglas Miller said.


In his annual State of the School address today, Dr. Miller noted that research money coming into the school is projected to increase to $77 million this fiscal year. That does not include any of the 101 proposals for a total of $66.2 million that the school is seeking through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, most of which are still pending. The research space is now “a challenge” for current faculty and would need to increase as the school increases its faculty size and the number of medical students, Dr. Miller said.

“If we grow our faculty, which of course we want to do, it requires expansion and space,” he said. “To a point, there will be increased faculty required to add (to) our class. De facto as a result of building the larger medical education building, growing the class, we would then grow the faculty as well to support that growth at the same time.”

Plans call for the medical school class to eventually increase to 240 students per class once the new buildings are built that can accommodate them.

The new research building is envisioned on the former Gilbert Manor housing area, where the school plans to build a new building for the School of Dentistry and has $9 million to plan and design a medical education commons that would also be used by the School of Medicine. The new research building has not been presented to or approved by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents, Dr. Miller said.

“It is still an aspirational project,” Dr. Miller said, but the school will start working on making the case for it. It will likely be presented first to the board of the Georgia Health Sciences University Foundation in June

The building has not been priced but would likely be in the $60-$65 million range, Dr. Miller said. Making it mirror the nearby Cancer Research Center has some advantages, he said.

“I think it creates a good campus look,” Dr. Miller said. “Plus we could possibly save some design money if we (copy) that existing platform.”

The same kind of discussions about what will be needed for the School of Medicine branch campus in Athens, created in partnership with the University of Georgia, will likely start soon, said campus dean Barbara Schuster. The school will move into a renovated building in July, with the first students starting there in fall 2010. Eventually plans are for the branch campus, as well as the UGA College of Public Health, to move to the campus of the Navy Supply Corps School in Athens after the Navy vacates the base in 2011. While there are classroom buildings and even housing that the schools could take advantage of, the site lacks some basic needs, such as laboratories, Dr. Schuster said.

“Definitely on the Navy property, we’ll need lots more space,” she said. “And not just for us but for Public Health as well. Public Health will need laboratory space.”



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