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August 12, 2002

Media Contact:
   Denine Hagen, 858-534-2920,


Powell-Focht Bioengineering Hall

August 12, 2002 - The University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Jacobs School of Engineering today dedicates the Powell-Focht Bioengineering Hall, a state-of-the-art teaching and research building where bioengineers will apply emerging technologies to develop new ways to diagnose and treat cancer, heart disease, diabetes, liver disease and other medical problems.

The 109,076 square foot facility will house the School's top-ranked Department of Bioengineering and the Whitaker Institute of Biomedical Engineering, a research institute aimed at advancing biomedical research among San Diego's biologists, physicians and engineers. The building will also house the von Liebig Center for Entrepreneurism and Technology Advancement (von Liebig Center), a program designed to accelerate the translation of UCSD Jacobs School research for industrial and clinical applications.

"Bioengineering holds tremendous promise for creating the medical devices and procedures of the future," said Frieder Seible, interim dean of the Jacobs School. "UCSD leads the nation in this important interdisciplinary field. With the growth of the department and the new building, we can extend our leadership in the field of bioengineering into the 21st century."

Private Support

The $37 million Powell-Focht Bioengineering Hall, which is named in honor of the Charles Lee Powell Foundation and the late San Diego Superior Court Judge James L. Focht, is the first academic facility on the UCSD campus funded almost entirely by private contributions. The building was made possible by the Whitaker Foundation's Leadership Award of $17.2 million, the Charles Lee Powell Foundation's gift of $8 million, a $2 million gift from the William J. von Liebig Foundation (part of a $10 million gift to establish the von Liebig Center), as well as many other generous contributions from alumni, friends and industry supporters.

UCSD Jacobs School
Academic Neighborhood

The Powell-Focht Bioengineering Hall is the first to be completed of three new buildings under construction at the UCSD Jacobs School. On May 31, UCSD broke ground for the 215,000 square foot building to house the UCSD division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology [Cal-(IT)²], and the 148,000 square foot Computer Science and Engineering building. These new buildings are set for completion in 2004 and will add, together with the Powell-Focht Bioengineering Hall, 462,000 square feet to the campus. This is almost as much as the total current 480,000 square feet of the UCSD Jacobs School.

About UCSD Bioengineering

The Powell-Focht Hall will help accommodate growth and a new vision of the Department of Bioengineering. It currently receives more than $12 million in research funding annually, including nearly $10 million from the National Institutes of Health, and is consistently ranked among the top three bioengineering programs in the country. Over the next three years, the Jacobs School will add seven new bioengineering faculty, to reach a steady-state size of 18 faculty. This will allow student enrollment to grow to about 1,000, up almost one-third from the current total enrollment of 754 students. The Department provides undergraduate and graduate programs in bioengineering and bioinformatics, as well as undergraduate pre-medical and biotechnology programs. "This building will help us fulfill our vision of integrative bioengineering, including the convergence of engineering and biomedical sciences and the integration of research, education and technology, from basic principles to practical applications," said Shu Chien, chair of the department of bioengineering and director of the Whitaker Institute of Biomedical Engineering.

A major focus of research in the department is the cardiovascular system and problems of heart disease and diabetes. The goal is to develop a new body of knowledge that incorporates everything from the regulation of genes to the action of clusters of cells in the tissue, and to the function of the entire organ. In addition to the cardiovascular system, the faculty are working on the mechanisms of aging or injury to bones, ligament, cartilage and muscle; liver disease, cancer and immune system disorders, and the treatments for these problems. They are also focusing on bioinformatics, an area of study that uses high performance computing to synthesize and organize biological data.

About the Powell-Focht Bioengineering Hall

With its modern facilities, the Powell-Focht Hall will enable faculty and students to apply emerging technologies towards medical advancements. Each of the four floors of the building will be dedicated to one of the Department's major technical focus areas: genomic bioengineering/bioinformatics, molecular biomechanics, cellular and tissue engineering, and systems bioengineering. Five core technology laboratories (nanotechnology, information technology, imaging and microscopy, biofabrication, and in vivo technology) will be available to faculty, students and visiting scientists. The building will also include instructional design laboratories which provide students with direct hands-on education experience.

As headquarters for the von Liebig Center for Entrepreneurism and Technology Advancement, the building will include conference rooms and work rooms for Jacobs School faculty and students actively involved in commercialization projects. The von Liebig Center provides advisory services and funds to accelerate the commercialization of UCSD inventions and develops courses focused on entrepreneurism for engineering students.

The Powell-Focht Bioengineering Hall has been designed to cohesively mesh with the existing Engineering 1 and Engineering 2 buildings, and to fit seamlessly with future development on the site. The main entrance of the building, which faces the courtyard of the new engineering mall, incorporates natural stone, instead of the pre-cast concrete found on the majority of the structure, to reflect the more rustic mood of the courtyard. The centerpiece of the building is the 150-person capacity Fung Auditorium (named in honor of Professor Y.C. Fung, a founder of the UCSD Bioengineering program) which will be outfitted with state-of-the-art multimedia equipment donated by Sony Electronics. The fourth floor will include a library leading onto an outdoor terrace. The library is named in honor of the late Professor Benjamin Zweifach, also a founding faculty member of the department.

The building was designed by Anshen & Allen of Los Angeles, and construction is being done by McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. (McCarthy).

Speakers at the dedication ceremony include Frieder Seible, Interim Dean of the Jacobs School of Engineering; Richard C. Atkinson, President of the University of California; Edward W. Holmes, UCSD Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences and Dean of the School of Medicine; Donna J. Dean, Acting Director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering; G. Burtt Holmes, Chairman of Governing Board, The Whitaker Foundation; Joel Holliday, President of the Charles Lee Powell Foundation; Jean Goggins, Executive Director of the William J. von Liebig Foundation; and Shu Chien, Chair of the Department of Bioengineering and Director of the Whitaker Institute of Biomedical Engineering.

Preceding the ceremony is a lecture by Roderic Ivan Pettigrew, Director Designate of the new National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering at the NIH. His address is titled "Challenges for Emerging Technologies in Medicine and Biomedical Engineering."


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