West Virginia University (WVU) has awarded a construction contract valued at $5 million to the March Westin Co. of Morgantown to begin work on the University’s Biomedical Research Facility.

The new structure, to be located at WVU ’s Robert C. Byrd Health Science Center in Morgantown, will be under construction by mid-July. The March Westin contract will cover excavation, foundation work, and the steel frame for the building.

“This is exciting news for West Virginians who deserve high-quality health care close to home. West Virginians shouldn’t be forced to travel out of state to receive this kind of specialized care,”U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., said.”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 diseases, but these hope-inspiring efforts require cutting-edge facilities and extensive funding. The new Biomedical Research Facility at WVU will accomplish both.”

Late in 2004, U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., added $20 million for the project 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.

“This project is crucial to the completion of our long-term Strategic Research Plan,”said Robert M. D’Alessandri, M.D., WVU Vice President for Health Sciences.”By creating state-of-the art research labs, we can continue to recruit faculty scientists of national caliber to our University. We are very appreciative of the support that Senator Byrd has provided to this effort and to other projects that support education, research and patient care at WVU .”

“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.

A later contract will be issued to complete the structure.

The new building will be located just east of the existing Health Sciences Building at WVU , and will include 120,000 square feet of laboratory and support space on four floors. It will be connected to the existing building with a pedestrian bridge.