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Pennington Center to Receive $42 Million Research Building

Released: Friday, January 23, 2004

BATON ROUGE - Pennington Biomedical Research center scientists are losing no time moving into their new research building, even though it's not officially theirs until Saturday.

The 5-story building, complete with floor to ceiling atrium, skyways, spacious labs, and plenty of informal gathering areas - not to mention the latest in biotech research equipment - is now a new landmark on Perkins Road. Researchers will be able to probe the inner workings of a gene or cell and then relax and talk about it with co-workers while looking out over a lake from a balcony coffee area.

"For us to attract the leading researchers in the world, we must have the best facilities," center spokesman Glen Duncan said. "This building is designed to encourage scientific exploration and inspire creativity. We have already begun to show it off to potential faculty and new researchers, and we're making a good impression. We are very thankful to the foundation for creating an environment that will foster future discoveries that could improve and save lives."

The Pennington Medical Foundation - a trust established by Louisiana oil man C.B. "Doc" Pennington in 1980 - financed construction of the 180,000 square foot, $42 million dollar building. Designers toured modern research facilities all over the country to pick the best elements for design - design features that encourage common area gatherings among the researchers, spontaneous exchanges over coffee and, of course, more formal presentations and lectures.

Highly specialized, shared equipment and smaller labs are grouped in the center of each research floor, while veteran and new researchers alike share wide-open, sun lit labs around the perimeter.

Saturday, trustees of the foundation will untie the ribbon on the building and present it to the center. Eventually, between 250 and 300 researchers and staff will occupy the laboratories and offices in the buildings.

"This is a perfect example of the economic impact of successful research. The construction costs, equipping costs and ongoing salaries and supply costs all are all multiplied as that money is spent here in Baton Rouge, and we're proud of that," Duncan said, “It is part of our mission to contribute to our community's economic growth.”

Some researchers may be looking onto the opening ceremony from their labs. They are already hard at work to learn more about obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer, and the healing effects of food substances and proper nutrition.

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The Pennington Biomedical Research Center is at the forefront of medical discovery as it relates to understanding the causes of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia. Itis a campus of the Louisiana State University System and conducts basic, clinical and population research. The research enterprise at the Center includes approximately 80 faculty and more than 25 post-doctoral fellows who comprise a network of 50 laboratories supported by lab technicians, nurses, dieticians, and support personnel, and 19 highly specialized core service facilities.  The Center's more than 500 employees perform research activities in state-of-the-art facilities on the 234-acre campus located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.