UNC-CH's new lab building adds to its research power

April 1, 2014 

Well, for a while anyway, UNC-Chapel Hill will not say it doesn’t have room to grow when it comes to research in the health sciences.

Marsico Hall, named for long-time generous donor Thomas F. Marsico of Denver, has 340,000 square feet. It is now the third-largest building on a campus with a lot of big buildings. Marsico Hall is all about the health sciences, including pharmacy and imaging equipment of the very latest variety, spread over three floors.

And were there any question that this is first and foremost a research facility, the other six floors of the building are mainly lab space.

The building also, university officials say, helps the medical school and pharmacy schools work more closely, and will consolidate the field of pulmonary research in one place.

A walkway hitches the building to the famed Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the Eshelman School of Pharmacy will expand research as well.

Where there’s a lab, there’s a way ... to involve UNC’s scientific superstar, the researcher and entrepreneur Joe DeSimone, and he’ll have lab space in the new building as well.

This building is a symbol, in a way, of the ongoing development of health sciences, and it’s another investment on top of UNC’s new cancer hospital, the funding for which was pushed through the General Assembly by former state Senate leader Marc Basnight of Manteo. He’s the one who created the University Cancer Research Fund, which provides a $50 million annual state contribution to cancer research.

Marsico has, for such a generous guy (some $40 million in contributions in total, although this building was paid for, at $245 million, mostly with state funding) kept a fairly low profile. He has two children who are UNC alums, although his interest in medical care came about because of his own experience with childhood pneumonia and his friendship with a couple who have a child with cystic fibrosis.

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