The Oscar Rennebohm Foundation today announced a $15 million gift to help build the planned Interdisciplinary Research Complex (IRC) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The IRC has a total estimated cost of $133.9 million. The complex will replace outdated research facilities and help unify the Medical School on the west campus. The first phase of the project will consist of a three-story base with a five-story tower adjacent to UW Hospital and Clinics and will include laboratory facilities, offices, an imaging center and animal quarters.
“The IRC will be home to talented, dedicated researchers from many disciplines working together to find solutions to society’s most complex health problems,” says Steven F. Skolaski, president of the Oscar Rennebohm Foundation. “The Rennebohm Foundation is certainly proud to be a partner in this project, which will someday benefit all of us here and people literally around the world.
“The IRC, though certainly an impressive building, is not the focus of this Rennebohm Foundation gift,” Skolaski said. “It is the work that will be done within this building that is most important. Soon, in this area of the university, we will have a world-class health sciences campus for advancing innovative research, training the next generations of medical professionals and delivering health care that is superior technologically and sensitive to human needs.”
The IRC is part of the HealthStar initiative, which has built on a successful public-private partnership to fund high-priority projects in research and medicine.
“The Oscar Rennebohm Foundation has shown true vision with this generous gift to help fund the Interdisciplinary Research Complex,” Gov. Jim Doyle said. “This project is a key part of my program to boost Wisconsin’s position at the forefront of biomedical research.”
“When the IRC is completed, it will be the home of life-saving, life-enhancing research — a tribute to the Rennebohm name and a source of pride to the citizens of Wisconsin, ” Doyle said.
The anticipated areas of focus in the IRC include cancer, image science, cardiovascular research, neuroscience, stem cell and regenerative medicine, molecular medicine and other cutting-edge basic and applied biomedical research programs.
“The Interdisciplinary Research Complex is the final and most ambitious component of the HealthStar plan,” said Dr. Philip Farrell, dean of the UW Medical School. “The IRC will bring human and technological resources close to patient care services and teaching facilities. This dynamic synergy will result in better treatment and healthier living.
“By bringing together, in one of the finest facilities of its kind, some of the best research minds in the world and enabling rapid translation of discovery to therapy, the IRC will firmly establish the UW-Madison as among the top echelon of our nation’s biomedical research enterprises,” Farrell said.
UW-Madison Chancellor John Wiley said the Rennebohm Foundation gift solidifies a long-standing relationship between the foundation and the university.
“For this organization to step forward in such a major way speaks volumes about our relationship,” Wiley said. “We cannot thank the Rennebohm Foundation enough for what it has done for this university.
“With this gift, we take another step in creating the finest health sciences campus in the nation,” Wiley said.
Associate Vice Chancellor Alan Fish said the IRC project is the final phase of the 1997 HealthStar initiative. The other facilities in the initiative include the Rennebohm Pharmacy Building and the Health Sciences Learning Center, both of which have been completed.
“This project will enable medical research facilities, now scattered throughout the campus in aging and inadequate facilities, to consolidate near the hospital and Waisman Center,” Fish said.
The facility’s proximity to UW Hospital and Clinics also will aid in transferring basic science discoveries into clinical applications.
“Over the last five to six years, the Medical School has dramatically increased the breadth and depth of our research enterprise,” said Paul DeLuca, associate dean for research and graduate studies and Medical School vice dean. “With the IRC, we will place clinical and basic scientists in physical and intellectual proximity to leverage the rapid interplay between discovery and application. In partnership with the Rennebohm Foundation we are creating a new future for the School, a future characterized by boundary-spanning research and care that starts in Madison but reaches throughout the state.”
The facility is designed to encourage a multidisciplinary approach that will aid in recruiting and retaining top-notch faculty and high-quality research programs. A goal of the IRC is to help bring basic research discoveries to clinical fruition at a more rapid pace.
In addition to private gifts and grants, the IRC project, which is due to be completed in spring 2008, is expected to use $23.3 million in state general fund-supported borrowing. Among the funds pledged to the project are $18 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health.
“The Oscar Rennebohm Foundation is one of our oldest and best friends,” said Andrew A. Wilcox, president of the University of Wisconsin Foundation. “Everyone connected with the university is honored to have this great partner make such a commitment to the future of health-related research on campus.”
Gov. Doyle and Chancellor Wiley have noted that over the past decade, Wisconsin has positioned itself to compete through the investment of more than $1 billion in new research infrastructure on the Madison campus. What’s more, they pointed to the university’s long-standing strengths in basic biology — biochemistry, genetics and molecular biology, among many others — and a tradition of interdisciplinary research as strengths that will help the university recruit and retain talented faculty.
The Rennebohm Foundation gift is part of the UW Foundation’s Create the Future: The Wisconsin Campaign.
Oscar Rennebohm established the Rennebohm Foundation in 1949 to support education, research, health care and recreation in the Madison metropolitan area. Until today, the largest grant from the Rennebohm Foundation was $5 million for the home for the School of Pharmacy that bears the Rennebohm name. The $15 million grant just announced is consistent with the mission of the Rennebohm Foundation — to support the work of the UW-Madison. Over the past 55 years, the Rennebohm Foundation has provided grants for people and programs in many of the schools and colleges at UW-Madison.
For more information
Dr. Philip Farrell, Dean, UW Medical School, (608) 263-4910
Steven F. Skolaski, Oscar Rennebohm Foundation President, (608) 274-1916