A West Virginia University center for research into Alzheimers and other neurological diseases moved a step closer to reality, thanks to action taken Friday (Feb. 13) by the schools Board of Governors.

The board approved the design for the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute building on the WVU Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center campus. The plans, prepared by the Boston architectural firm Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott, show three levels of laboratories and offices grouped around a central atrium.

Its going to be an outstanding design,said Robert Carubia, assistant vice president of facilities at the HSC .I know its going to win some design awards after the building is completed.

Construction is scheduled to begin in November, with substantial completion in June 2006, Carubia said. WVU has already begun preparatory work at the site, which is adjacent to the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center.

Grant funding will pay for the building, which is expected to cost about $38 million. The grants include $20 million from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration and $10 million from the West Virginia Economic Development Grant Committee. U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., established the institute in 1999, naming it after his mother, who died of Alzheimers disease in 1992. The Rockefeller family later gave $15 million to the project.

WVU President David C. Hardesty Jr. said the project is an example of how research at the University is bringing economic development to Morgantown and West Virginia.

The board also approved construction of a 4,000-square-foot nanotechnology clean laboratory in the Engineering Sciences Building. The facility will replace a 1,200-square-foot lab, which does not provide adequate environmental controls or exhaust requirements for the level of research being conducted.

Nanotechnology is the creation and use of extremely small materials or devices. Advocates say nanotechnology will enable scientists to create more durable fibers, replicate food and produce microscopic robots that when ingested would render cancer cells harmless.

The new facility, which is scheduled to be completed in December, is vital to retaining and attracting faculty involved in this research and maintaining the Universitys standing in the area of nanotechnology, said Scott Kelley, vice president of administration, finance and human resources.

The estimated cost of the lab is $2.24 million, with funding coming from the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, private sources and a reallocation of University moneys.

In other business, the board approved a masters of arts degree in professional writing and editing and a major in criminology and investigations.

The graduate professional writing and editing program will give students a background in writing theory and experience in writing, editing and working with organizations. The program, offered through the Department of English, will consist of 30 hours.

The criminology and investigations major will build on the strong criminology and criminal justice curriculum offered by the Division of Sociology and Anthropology. The major will include new courses dealing with investigative processes in the criminal justice system and the sociology of legal investigations.

During his report, Hardesty introduced Christine Martin as the new vice president of Institutional Advancement and led the board in thanking Carolyn Curry for her leadership in that position.

Curry is relocating to Delaware, where her husband, Dan, is a school superintendent. Martin, dean of the Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism, will begin her new job April 1.

The board also:

  • appointed Richard Love to the Joint Administrative Board for the Caperton Center for Applied Technology
  • appointed Treaby Scaggs to the Logan County Extension Service Committee
  • eliminated the associates degree in automotive services technology at WVU Institute of Technology
  • approved an associates degree in technical studies: paraeducator at WVU Tech
  • approved the re-adoption of the facilities master plan for WVU at Parkersburg
  • approved a laboratory fee to support the costs of a new graduate certificate program in forensic accounting and fraud investigation
  • approved a National Advisory Council for Health Sciences
  • heard an update about upcoming accreditation reviews at WVU , WVU at Parkersburg and Potomac State College of WVU

The board will next meet for a long-range planning session April 1 and business meeting April 2.