University of Pittsburgh
March 5, 2003

Pitt Celebrates Groundbreaking Ceremony for Laboratories of The Pittsburgh Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases March 6

Contact:  412-624-4147

March 6, 2003

PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh—in special cooperation with the Scaife Family Foundation and the DSF Charitable Foundation—today celebrated the future home of the laboratories of the Pittsburgh Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases (PIND) during a virtual groundbreaking ceremony in Alumni Hall's Connolly Ballroom.

PIND aims to facilitate and promote interdisciplinary studies that would lead to translational research and produce better treatments based on what is learned about the pathological mechanisms that work in disorders. PIND will be a center without walls to facilitate interaction among researchers. These "open laboratories" will be located on the seventh floor of the new Biomedical Science Tower 3 (BST 3), which will be built at a site on Fifth Avenue between Darrah and Lothrop streets. PIND's laboratories will be integrated with clinical and translational research in neurology and other clinical departments, as well as centers dedicated to specific diseases.

A major portion of a leadership grant of $10.8 million to Pitt, funded equally by the Scaife Family Foundation and the DSF Charitable Foundation, will partially support the construction. A matching gift of $10 million from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) also will support the project.

"We are indeed fortunate that such dedicated partners have chosen to invest in this most important building project," said Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg. "We are deeply grateful for the exceptionally generous support of the Scaife Family Foundation, the DSF Charitable Foundation, and the UPMC. PIND, and the life-changing discoveries that will be made within its laboratories, will, first and foremost, advance our healing knowledge—and, certainly, PIND's presence will add to the number of new biomedical initiatives that are important to the economic future of our region."

The chancellor and Steven T. DeKosky, professor and chair of the Department of Neurology and director of PIND, delivered remarks during the ceremony.

The Scaife Family Foundation was represented by Chair Jennie K. Scaife and other members of the foundation's board, and the DSF Charitable Foundation was represented by Cochair David N. Scaife and other members of the foundation's board. Also in attendance were John Paul, executive vice president of UPMC, and Jim Roddey, Allegheny County chief executive.

PIND was established to integrate, coordinate, and support education and medical research in neurodegenerative diseases. PIND is bolstered by the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, the Movement Disorders Programs, the Center for Neural Basis of Cognition, the Center for Neurosciences, and a variety of basic and clinical researchers at Pitt.

"PIND will enable cutting-edge research in the laboratory, the clinic, and the important 'bridge' between them known as translational research," said DeKosky. "It is more than just a metaphor that these laboratories are connected by a bridge to the clinics where we study and care for patients with Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Lou Gehrig's disease, stroke, and other related disorders.

"PIND was the brainchild of Michael Zigmond and Robert Y. Moore, both professors of neurology and experienced, internationally known brain researchers. They recognized that a centralized institute, both with its own specialized laboratories and clinics could allow us to develop a research and care facility here in Pittsburgh that was greater than the sum of its considerable parts. We're hopeful that the development of PIND will enable us to increase the breadth and pace of our research and speed the development of new therapies."

In addition to being the home of PIND's laboratories, BST 3 will house state-of-the-art biological research laboratories and specialized laboratories for structural biology, synthetic chemistry, computational biology, and genomics and proteomics facilities.

Construction of the $188 million limestone-and-glass building—designed by Boston's Payette Associates Inc., in association with the Pittsburgh firm JSA—is scheduled to begin next month. Initial occupancy of the building is scheduled for the spring of 2005. The entire tower should be occupied by the winter of 2005.

"In the culture of contemporary research, investigators from multiple fields—biology, neuroscience, mathematics, chemistry, computer science—must work closely together to fully exploit the vast array of data made available through the Human Genome Project and related initiatives," Arthur S. Levine, senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and dean of Pitt's School of Medicine, said prior to the ceremony. "They might have different approaches to problems, but the scientific questions they address will have a common denominator. Our hope is that insights gained from research conducted in BST 3 will eventually restock the physician's black bag."