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The University of Chicago Medicine - Comer Children's Hospital

Fact Sheet: Gwen and Jules Knapp Center for Biomedical Discovery

Opened in 2009, the Gwen and Jules Knapp Center for Biomedical Discovery provides 330,760 square feet of research space for groundbreaking initiatives at the University of Chicago Division of Biological Sciences. This facility houses laboratories and office space for principal investigators, postdoctoral students and graduate students in the departments of pediatrics and medicine, as well as the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Institute for Molecular Pediatric Sciences: The First of Its Kind

About half of the space in the Center for Biomedical Discovery is home to the Institute for Molecular Pediatric Sciences. The University of Chicago is the first medical center in the country to build a molecular institute devoted exclusively to improving children's health. The institute's integrated, cross-departmental research teams are comprised of basic scientists, physician-scientists and clinical researchers. These teams offer combined expertise in genetics, biophysics, biochemistry, complex model systems, cellular physiology, translational studies and clinical studies.

The institute has introduced an entirely new model of research that harnesses genomics, biophysics, physiology and clinical studies to develop more advanced and effective treatments for pediatric diseases. Institute scientists conduct investigations to:

  • Develop new ways to diagnose and treat childhood diseases
  • Better understand the cause of diseases
  • Identify why some children develop diseases and others do not
  • Determine why some treatments work for some but not others
  • Learn how interactions between the environment and genetics may contribute to a sudden increase in certain pediatric diseases
  • Explore how genes influence childhood diseases
  • Help prevent diseases in children

Center for Metastasis Research

One floor of the Center for Biomedical Discovery houses the Center for Metastasis Research. Scientists in the Center for Metastasis Research work together to create tailor-made cancer treatments specifically designed for each patient. Although metastasis is known as a leading cause of cancer deaths, most research to date has been focused on treating primary cancers. In the Center for Metastasis Research, there is a novel emphasis on the exploration of metastasis--which requires a very different approach than treating primary cancers. This center is one of only six centers in the country to focus on the study of metastasis.

Interactive Environment

The Center for Biomedical Discovery is built to enhance the collaborative culture of its occupants. This state-of-the art structure includes architectural features designed to frame an efficient and flexible work environment, such as:

  • Public and common areas built as double height spaces, permitting interaction between users of adjacent floors.
  • Laboratory floors organized in two blocks to promote a highly interactive environment.
  • Offices configured to allow views through support spaces and into laboratories, creating openness throughout the building.

Optimal Location

The center's location, on the northeast corner of Drexel Avenue and 57th Street, facilitates travel to and from affiliated programs in the Center for Integrative Science (formerly the Interdivisional Research Building) and the Jules Knapp Research Center. Enclosed walkways on the first and third levels connect the building to the Biological Sciences Learning Center (BSLC). The more public elements of the building--clinical offices, divisional administration and conference facilities--are easily accessible on the ground floor.