Rising high above the Roberts Proton Therapy Center is a building that truly represents the future of Penn Medicine. “This has been the dream of so many for so long,” said University president Amy Gutmann, PhD, at the opening of the Translational Research Center (TRC). “It is a marvelous milestone.”
According to Gutmann, the TRC also represents a “phenomenal 10 years of leadership” by Arthur Rubenstein, MBBCh, former executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania for the Health System and dean of the Perelman School of Medicine. “It is a capstone for a truly remarkable career,” she said.
The Translational Research Center is the first medical research building on the Penn campus – indeed, one of the first anywhere – designed to bring discoveries quickly, effectively and safely to patients. “It represents the next great frontier of biomedical research, designed to enhance collaboration between our physicians -- caring for patients -- and our biomedical researchers,” Rubenstein said. “It promises to accelerate the development of the next generation of advanced therapy.”
TRC’s open, flexible design -- with DNA-like spiral stairs allowing for quick floor-to-floor connections and a seamless connection to the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine -- encourages conversations among researchers, physicians, trainees, and students. “And that’s often what drives the next set of ideas,” Rubenstein said.
The event’s keynote speaker, Francis Collins, MD, PhD, director of the National Institutes of Health, congratulated Rubenstein, Gutmann, and all those involved in bringing the TRC to fruition. “It is a privilege to be part of the celebration – of a building to be sure – but especially a celebration of what [Rubenstein] has done at Penn. The contributions you have made to this institution -- and to others -- are legendary and will remain so.”
Collins went on to speak of the translational research under way at the NIH, which contributed $13 million to the newly opened Center. Quoting Sir William Osler, who has been called the father of modern medicine, Collins said, “To wrest from nature the secrets which have perplexed philosophers of all ages, to track to their sources the causes of disease, to correlate the vast stores of knowledge, that they may be quickly available for the prevention and cure of disease – these are our ambitions.”
“I suspect,” he continued, “these are the ambitions of the Translational Research Center and I suspect these ambitions will be pursued with creativity and vision unlike anything that’s ever come before.”
Five Floors Devoted to Cutting-Edge Research
The TRC will support research that cuts across departmental, disciplinary, and even school lines within the University. Its five research floors, each comprising 48,000 square feet, include three institutes Rubenstein established at Penn in 2005 -- the Institute for Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism; the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics; and the Penn Cardiovascular Institute – as well as other cutting-edge research.
For example, at the opening, Amita Seghal, PhD, co-director of the Comprehensive Neuroscience Center, described her studies to better understand sleep/wake cycles -- our circadian rhythm -- which govern all types of functions and affect the cycles of disease and our response to medication. Jonathan Epstein, MD, chair of Cell and Developmental Biology, spoke of the possibilities of regenerative medicine, which is the restoration of cell, tissue, or organ function following loss as a result of injury, disease or aging. Shelley L. Berger, PhD, director of the Penn Epigenetics Program, described her focus on the “layer of regulation over our genes that is key to how they are turned on and off” -- an important component in controlling human behavior and disease.
In closing, Rubenstein thanked many people who played key roles in creating the TRC, including Gutmann, CEO Ralph Muller, Glen Gaulton, PhD, vice dean and chief scientific officer, and Kevin Mahoney, senior VP and chief administrative officer, and vice dean for Integrative Services for the Perelman School of Medicine.
”We believe our work here can make a real impact on the treatment of the most devastating diseases,” Rubenstein said. “This new building will bring a new energy to our faculty’s research and a link to patient care and education efforts in a way I’ve dreamed about.”
A Toast to the Potential of Research and the Future of Medicine
At the opening of the Translational Research Center, University president Amy Gutmann recognized the unflagging commitement to the creation of the TRC, “a marvelous milestone in the history of the University and Penn Medicine.” In leading the toast, she called it “a crowning achievement” to Dean Rubenstein’s years of leadership.
(Photo) Joining Amy Gutmann in the toast are (l. to r.) Glen Gaulton, Ralph Muller, Francis Collins, Arthur Rubenstein, and Kevin Mahoney.