Schools of Medicine and Engineering, University celebrate grand opening of Chesterfield Building – new hub for biomedical research

Friday, May 11, 2018

Ties between Duke University and the City of Durham are stronger than ever with the opening of a new translational research building in the Brightleaf District.

The Chesterfield Building, located at 701 West Main Street, was built in 1948 as a cigarette factory for the Liggett & Myers tobacco company. Now, it is a sparkling glass gateway for scientists, clinicians, and entrepreneurs to meet and collaborate.

Interior Of Chesterfield building AtriumDuke University’s School of Medicine will have a powerful presence in The Chesterfield, with numerous units calling the building home, including the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), Center for Genomics and Computational Biology, the Robertson Research Lab, part of the Marcus Center for Cellular Therapies, and Children’s Health and Discovery Initiative – with others to join them in the future.

On the third floor of the building, Arthur Moseley, PhD, director of the Duke Proteomic and Metabolomics Shared Resource in the Center for Genomic and Computation Biology, manages this resource to provide a wide variety of proteomic and metabolomic analyses to support the research of Duke investigators. Liquid chromatography, coupled with tandem mass spectrometry, is the key technology used for qualitative and quantitative analyses.

On the fifth floor, approximately 50 staff members from the CTSI will continue their mission of building research infrastructure for Duke investigators and breaking down the traditional barriers that keep health innovations from reaching communities. 

“We connect Duke investigators to funding, project management, datasets, and other critical resources to move their ideas from the lab to the real world,” said Ebony Boulware, MD, vice dean for translational sciences in the School of Medicine.  “CTSI is excited to be part of the diverse life sciences community at the Chesterfield alongside Duke faculty and student researchers.”

More than 200 people attended the Chesterfield Building for Life Science Research Grand Opening, held May 8, 2018 at the new space.  Duke University Provost Sally Kornbluth, PhD;  Mary Klotman, MD, Dean of the School of Medicine; Ravi V. Bellamkonda,PhD,  Vinik Dean of Engineering; and Scott Selig, associate vice president for capital assets, spoke at the event. Durham resident and rapper Joshua Gunn delivered a poem that chronicled the history of the building and expressed optimism about its exciting new purpose.

Dean & Provost, From left, Ravi V. Bellamkonda, PhD, Vinik Dean of the School of Engineering; Scott Selig, Duke AVP for Capital Assetts; Sally Kornbluth, PhD, University Provost; Mary Klotman, MD, Dean of the School of Medicine.

Scientists whose work is especially translational—or ripe for connection to consumer markets—were chosen as some of the building’s first tenants. The idea is that co-habitation with local businesses—which include digital storage software firm Nutanix, LaunchBio, a nonprofit that supports life sciences-based entrepreneurs, and innovative coworking space BioLab—could lead to breakthrough ideas and products.

“It’s exciting to be co-located in this state-of-the-art facility with neighbors like the Pratt School of Engineering and Launchbio – both of whom share the vision of innovation and progress and embrace the concepts of partnership and collaboration,” said Klotman.

The new Marcus Center for Cellular Cures, a collaboration between the School of Medicine and Duke Engineering, was just launched and will bring together physicians and faculty across medicine and engineering at Duke to develop cellular and biological therapies for autism, cerebral palsy, stroke, and related brain disorders. 

Also in the building is a new Bioengineering Research Initiative to Develop Global Entrepreneurs, known as BRiDGE, led by Ashutosh Chilkoti, PhD, chair of Duke’s Department of Biomedical Engineering in the Pratt School of Engineering.  The initiative seeks to connect Duke faculty and students with bioengineering startups, which will include Qatch Technologies, Restor 3D, Deep Blue Medical Advances, and others.

“The Chesterfield shows the depth of the collaboration between Duke and Durham, and between Duke Medicine and Engineering, and it is also symbolic of the incredible growth happening in Duke Engineering right now,” said Ravi V. Bellamkonda, Vinik Dean of Engineering. “The Chesterfield will be a place where Duke engineers work with our colleagues in medicine and the Durham community on challenges like developing new approaches to human disease, making quantum computing a reality and creating new technology to bring clean water and sanitation solutions to billions worldwide.”

“The Chesterfield Building makes real a vision of how working together, thinking outside the box, and looking for new ways, new people, and new companies to partner with will be the formula for progress and success we can all share in the future,” said Klotman.