December 5, 2013 in City, Health

WSU Spokane prepares to open pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences building

By The Spokesman-Review
Dan Pelle photoBuy this photo

David Liu adjusts a microscope after unpacking it for his lab Wednesday in the new Washington State University Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences building on the Riverpoint campus. The facility will be dedicated Friday.
(Full-size photo)

Map of this story's location
Open house

What: Public open house at Washington State University’s Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences building.

Where: 205 E. Spokane Falls Blvd., Spokane

When: 1:30 p.m. Friday (tours to follow); 4 p.m. art dedication ceremony

Speakers: Frank Chopp, the speaker of the Washington House of Representatives, WSU President Elson Floyd and WSU Spokane Chancellor Lisa Brown.

Researcher David Liu unboxed microscopes, shelved test tubes and beakers, and organized supplies in a university lab where his focus will be on how to target and kill cancer cells.

This potentially lifesaving research is going to be done in Washington State University’s new $80 million Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences building on the Riverpoint campus in downtown Spokane.

The building buzzed with activity Wednesday as contractors completed construction and pharmacists moved into sparkling new labs. A grand opening of the five-story, 125,000-square-foot structure is set for Friday.

Students move in next month.

“The new research cores will greatly expand our research capabilities on campus to include advanced imaging technology, mass spectrometry and genomics research,” Medical Sciences Director Ken Roberts said.

Liu, whose research has been showcased by the American Cancer Society, said it will take a couple of weeks to have the lab up and running.

About two-thirds of the building will be occupied by the College of Pharmacy, with researchers on the top two floors. Medical sciences researchers will occupy the second-floor laboratory and office space. The basement has several laboratories where students can study anatomy using cadavers.

“It is equivalent to the best pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences building anywhere in the nation,” said Gary Pollack, dean of the College of Pharmacy.

The emphases of the college will be on drug development, drug delivery and pharmacogenetics/genomics, said Phil Lazarus, chair of pharmaceutical sciences.

WSU recruited Lazarus from Pennsylvania State University School of Medicine, where he founded and directed the Center for Pharmacogenetics. Lazarus’ international reputation has helped recruit others, including his former colleague, Liu.

Lazarus is enthusiastic and ready to get started. “The word new is a big thing. The opportunity to be on the ground level as it grows,” he said. “The caveat is making sure there are resources. We have to show we can grow here.”

Lazarus had to sort through 20 years of experiments before making the move, which he said took months. His work focuses on how different pharmaceuticals affect people differently because of their unique genetics.

Moving his experiments to the new lab has been “exciting but hectic,” he said. A refrigerated truck transported his experiments-in-progress across the country.

By Christmas or the new year, “we should have things up and running,” he said.

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