Duke Begins Construction of New Research Building

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Duke University has begun construction of a third Medical Sciences Research Building (MSRB), continuing Duke Health’s ongoing commitment to invest in science and foster collaboration among basic science researchers.

MSRB III will be located on Research Drive between the Occupational & Environmental Safety Building and the Medical Sciences Research Building II. Preliminary site work began over Memorial Day weekend in anticipation of approval to construct the new $103 million, 155,000-square-foot building that will exclusively house bench lab research. With six floors above ground and one below, MSRB III will be a significant overall step toward easing the crunch in research space, even for those who may not move into the new building.

Actual construction is expected to begin immediately and is anticipated to conclude in the late summer/fall of 2018. Discussions regarding which research programs will be housed in the new MSRB III building are in the early stages and decisions will be made as the anticipated opening nears, said Scott Gibson, School of Medicine (SOM) executive vice dean for administration.

“This is an important and exciting project for the School of Medicine,” Gibson said. “The school’s last major research building on campus was built in 2006 and the long-term sustainability of our research mission clearly requires additional space on the campus.  As we’ve grown, we’ve had to squeeze and be creative about where we put new researchers and we’ve reached a point where that’s just not possible any longer, even with the innovative space we have leased in downtown Durham.”

The 190,000-square-foot MSRB I opened in 1994. MSRB II, with 165,000 square feet, opened in 2006.

Raphael Valdivia, PhD, SOM vice dean for basic science, said MSRB III is an example of how the university and SOM in particular are increasing investments in basic research.

“This is not a place where we will simply be relocating labs and departments,” Valdivia said. “It will allow us to create research synergies and build thematically aligned groups that will expand and strengthen our research portfolio. And certainly will decompress research space constraints so that we can build on the specific thematic areas that the chancellor has identified – including transplantation immunology, neurosciences, and cardiovascular disease- across campus.” 

SOM will also be adding to its leased research space in Durham in an area dubbed the Durham Innovation District.  Duke University currently leases 100,000 square feet in the Carmichael Building across Duke Street from the Durham School of the Arts, and plans to lease another 100,000 square feet of lab space (50,000 for SOM use) in the Chesterfield Building now under renovation at 710 W. Main St. near Brightleaf Square.  Also, a planned office tower next to the current Durham Center Building at Morgan and Morris streets will allow the Duke Clinical Research Institute to lease space that will allow it to largely move out of North Pavilion on Fulton Street near Duke University Hospital, Gibson said.   

“The leased space in Durham addresses mainly office-based research needs as opposed to bench research space, except for the Carmichael Building which opened in late 2014,” Gibson said.  “The Chesterfield building, however, represents an opportunity for us to have a modest increase in wet lab space,” Gibson said. “Importantly, Biolab NC also will lease space in the building as shared lab space for startup and growing life science companies. That offers us an opportunity to create research collaborations with industry.”