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College of Veterinary Medicine
hosts opening of East Campus Research Facility

rendering of the new ECRF building. ITHACA, N.Y. - A champagne toast and ribbon-cutting ceremony hailed the June 26 opening of the 79,000-square-foot East Campus Research Facility (ECRF), a consolidated animal research building five years in the making that will be a key part of Cornell's New Life Sciences Initiative.

Close to 150 faculty, staff and students attended the ceremony, which featured remarks from several administrators and tours of the nearly complete building. The ECRF promises to greatly increase the quality of live-animal research done at Cornell across various life science disciplines.

About 45,000 mice will be housed in the new facility, compared with the 15,000 that are currently kept at the Vet School. In addition to mice, the ECRF will also contain chickens, woodchucks, rats, guinea pigs and hamsters.

The $55 million ECRF, which is scheduled to be operational by this fall, is a major cog in the $600 million New Life Sciences Initiative at Cornell. The cornerstone building of that initiative, Weill Hall, is scheduled for completion in early 2008.

Donald Smith, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, said that though the ECRF is an animal care project, its scope and usage will not be limited to the Vet School.

"Though veterinarians and biomedical scientists in our college will comprise a substantial contingent of users, the collaboration that these individuals will have with other faculty ... will ensure that this is truly a building for all of Cornell's life sciences," Smith said.

Ribbon cutting ceremony Smith will step down as dean on June 30, to be succeeded by Michael Kotlikoff, chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the Vet School. Kotlikoff pointed to a collaborative effort among faculty visionaries, the Philadelphia-based architecture firm Ballinger, Cornell's Planning, Design and Construction office, and many others that brought the ECRF to fruition.

Transgenic mice, or mice that have had their DNA altered, are a key tool for researchers to see how individual genes function, leading, for example, to breakthroughs in cancer and other diseases. In addition to the increased mouse capacity in the ECRF, Weill Hall also will have a vivarium for the hosting of additional small animals.

The ECRF features state-of-the-art cage-washing and storage rooms with strict protocols for keeping mice and cages from cross-contamination. Mice found to have unwanted pathogens will be kept from infecting "clean" mice that are needed for laboratory experiments. While unique strains of transgenic animals will be bred at the facility, most will be purchased from live-animal suppliers.

In 2004 the building was awarded an Excellence in Architectural Design prize from the American Institute of Architecture's Philadelphia Chapter. The award went to the architecture company Ballinger, on behalf of Cornell as its client, in the Unbuilt Buildings category.

by Anne Ju

Also available:
   Introductory remarks by Donald F. Smith, Austin O. Hooey Dean of Veterinary Medicine
   Remarks by Michael I. Kotlikoff, Chair of Biomedical Sciences