A new home for HSCI

Construction for HSCI’s new home in the First Science building in Allston is well under way. The new building will house both the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, the newly-formed Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology (SCRB) and other multi-disciplinary science initiatives. Located on the future Harvard campus in Allston, the First Science building was designed specifically to facilitate interdisciplinary and collaborative research and will contain faculty laboratories, shared core facilities, administrative offices, a conference center, and dedicated seminar and teaching space. Building on the success of the HSCI, the anticipated move to Allston in the summer of 2011 presents an opportunity for the institute to expand and strengthen the already vibrant community of stem cell scientists involved in its research and education programs.

“It is rare to be given the opportunity to think through a laboratory building from the ground up,” according to David Scadden, co-director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and co-chair of the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology. “Because faculty members have been involved in this planning process from the beginning, we will end up with a world-class facility that’s designed to meet Harvard’s evolving needs in science, rather than a building that has to be retrofitted as needs change over time,” said Scadden.

The co-location of HSCI and the new department in First Science will facilitate better connections across the University, including the numerous schools and hospitals that are involved in interdisciplinary education and research. Bringing together many members of the HSCI community to work in one location will enable them to intensify their collaborations, and will provide new opportunities for undergraduates, graduate students, and medical students to receive training in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine.

The HSCI will continue to be much broader than the First Science building itself. “With our 60 Principal Faculty, the entire Institute couldn’t even fit in the new building,” says Brock Reeve, Executive Director. Some HSCI scientists will transfer their full research programs to Allston, others will split their labs between Allston and their current locations, and others will continue to be integral members of the HSCI community but will maintain their labs where they are. Moving from a virtual network to more of a huband- spoke model will allow HSCI to maintain its connections to the hospital labs, clinics and core facilities across the University and affiliates while providing a center of gravity to its efforts.

Which other faculty and initiatives will move into the complex has not yet been finalized, but the University is currently in discussions – with other multi-disciplinary research groups – including Systems Biology and Bioengineering – about joining HSCI and SCRB in First Science. These groups recently presented to a committee of senior administrators and faculty some ideas about the exciting new joint research and teaching opportunities that this new building offers as a result of having a critical mass of inter-disciplinary scientists in related fields working close to one another. “This is an example of what collaborative, multi-disciplinary science can look like at Harvard,” said Douglas Melton, PhD, co-Scientific Director of HSCI.