West Virginia University (WVU) will benefit from $20 million that U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., added to federal legislation for the construction of a state-of-the-art Biomedical Science Research Center.”West Virginians suffer in high numbers from cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other serious illnesses. Experts work each day to develop treatments and cures for these maladies, but these hope-inspiring efforts require cutting-edge facilities and extensive funding. The new Biomedical Science Research Center will accomplish both,”Byrd said.

“The facility will allow WVU to secure a greater share of federal government and private research funds and, in turn, make greater strides towards improving the lives of those suffering from a host of life-threatening illnesses,”Byrd added.

Byrd added the $20 million for the Biomedical Science Research Center to the Fiscal Year 2005 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill which was wrapped into a larger federal funding package. The legislation was approved by Congress Saturday and sent to the president to be signed into law.

“No one has done more for the health and education of West Virginia’s citizens than Senator Byrd, and today’s announcement adds another chapter to that story,”said Robert M. D’Alessandri, M.D., WVU vice president for health sciences.”The construction of a biomedical science research building on the campus of the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center will open new doors for our scientists, our future students, and our state.”

The $20 million that Byrd added will pay for the full cost of construction of the Center. The facility will be designed and equipped to foster interdisciplinary biomedical research in areas of special concern to West Virginians.”

Today’s biomedical research is characterized by its multi-disciplinary approach. The new biomedical facility will pave the way for the future of WVU ’s medical research endeavorsspurring job creation, attracting top research professionals, and ensuring that the Byrd Health Sciences Center will continue to improve healthcare in the Mountain State for years to come,”Byrd said.

“The United States had doubled its commitment to biomedical research in the past several years. To be a part of this unprecedented increase in research, WVU must develop focused interdisciplinary programs and provide them with the necessary infrastructure to compete for Federal research grants,”said John E. Prescott, M.D., dean of the WVU School of Medicine.”We must retain our best researchers and recruit new talent to expand their work.”

“West Virginia University’s commitment to the future of the state is strong, and by helping us achieve more in the area of biomedical research, Senator Byrd is enhancing our ability to serve the state,”said David C. Hardesty, Jr., WVU president.”Land-grant research universities have a responsibility not just to create new knowledge, but also to put it in the hands of those who will use it to better the lives of others.”

WVU expects the Biomedical Science Research Center will create as many as 1,300 new jobs in North Central West Virginia with an average annual salary of $40,000 over an eight-year period.

“This has truly been a season of good news for the Health Sciences Center. We’ve broken ground for the $30 million Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Instituteanother project for which Senator Byrd provided financial supportand arranged a $24 million financing package with the state for additional research space,”D’Alessandri said.”Now we can begin to plan for the $20 million biomedical research building that will be the cornerstone of our expansion into the top ranks of America’s research centers. With the growth of the hospital and other clinical facilities, we are anticipating a total of up to 2,500 new jobs in the next decade.”