Dedicated to biomedical and neurosciences research, the James L. Sorenson Molecular Biotechnology Building will be first of four multidisciplinary facilities on 11 acres in the center of campus, and will be the cornerstone of the state’s $500 million ‘Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative,’ a university-based drive to build interdisciplinary teams that explore novel technologies and develop commercialization opportunities.
Oct. 26, 2008 — The University of Utah has announced that the Sorenson Legacy Foundation has made the lead donation of $15 million to begin constructing a sophisticated 193,000-sq. ft. biomedical and neurosciences building designed to help create and develop the next wave of health sciences technology. Named the James L. Sorenson Molecular Biotechnology Building in honor of Utah’s world-renowned medical device inventor and entrepreneur, the facility will become the heart of the state’s $500 million Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative (USTAR), and will anchor the university’s new “Interdisciplinary Quadrangle” on 11 acres bridging upper and lower campus. The announcement came Saturday, Oct. 25, 2008 during the university’s “Together We Reach” fund-raising campaign gala.
“The Sorenson family has shown extraordinary foresight and vision with this gift,” said University of Utah President Michael K. Young. “Because of their generosity, USTAR will invest $100 million in this state-of-the-art facility and promote a new generation of discovery and economic development in the health sciences. James LeVoy Sorenson’s interdisciplinary and entrepreneurial approach to finding creative solutions for challenging medical problems endures in the vision for this facility.”
As a hub for USTAR’s research and development, the building will be home to advanced imaging and nanotechnology laboratories, including a 20,000-square-foot nanofabrication area designed to create and develop new bioengineered materials and devices, as well as MEMS, circuits, memory and sensors, among others. The facility will support internationally recognized senior faculty researchers and their staff. Funds for operations come from USTAR, a $500 million 20-year commitment by the Utah legislature to propel the state to the forefront of the global knowledge economy by building intellectual assets and developing innovative products.
“With Utah’s combination of higher education, research and innovation, we can lead the world in biomedical development,” said James Lee Sorenson, oldest son of James LeVoy Sorenson. “And we honor my father’s legacy by helping advance healthcare technologies that also create entrepreneurial opportunities for our community.”
This $15 million donation brings to a total of $33 million the family of James LeVoy Sorenson has donated to the University of Utah in the past 13 months to support innovative, interdisciplinary initiatives. In August, Beverley Taylor Sorenson and the Sorenson Legacy Foundation donated $12 million to build an interdisciplinary arts and education center, and in Sept. 2007 the foundation donated $6 million to the David Eccles School of Business to establish a multidisciplinary center for the study of discovery and innovation.
Groundbreaking at the site, near Federal Way and Wasatch Drive on what is now the university golf course, is scheduled for early summer with completion in spring 2012. Total cost is $130 million. The building is the first of four in the university’s new Interdisciplinary Quad, intended to be a distinct area in which scientific enterprises in a broad variety of disciplines can operate in a collaborative, integrated way.
“The Interdisciplinary Quad will literally and figuratively bridge our health professions, engineering, science, business and law sections of campus,” said Lorris Betz, senior vice president for health sciences and executive dean of the school of medicine. “The connections the Quad will nurture will promote creativity, attract excellent faculty, engage savvy, motivated students and foster commercial partnership opportunities.”
The Interdisciplinary Quadrangle will be surrounded by intramural athletic fields and traversed by pedestrian and shuttle corridors. It will be served by Utah Transit Authority’s TRAX mass-transit commuter line.
University of Utah has a history as a high-technology economic driver in the state, with more than 180 companies founded over the past twenty years on university technologies, including Myriad Genetics, Cephalon, ARUP, Idaho Technology and Evans & Sutherland.
About the Sorenson Legacy Foundation
Based in Salt Lake City, the Sorenson Legacy Foundation is a non-profit corporation established by the James LeVoy Sorenson family for the exclusive purpose of promoting charitable, religious, educational, literary and scientific endeavors.