$2 Million Donation Funds Biotech Lab

An existing lab on the third floor of the Harney Science Center, Room 323, was just upgraded after a $2 million renovation that includes new technologies and funds for increased research.

The project was funded by Kirk Schroeder, a Michigan-based biotech entrepreneur. Schroeder does not have any direct connection to USF, but wanted to help fund the project with a university close to his hometown of Monterey, California, according to an article published by USF’s Office of Marketing Communication (OMC).

Construction started at the beginning of the 2018 fall semester and ended just in time for the spring semester. The new space itself totals 760 square feet.

In addition to the remodel, the funds cover the hiring of two “key personnel” to help manage the lab and coursework along with student’s research endeavors and fellowships, according to OMC’s article.  

“The donor’s vision was to bring a new life sciences lab, which would give students an undergraduate exposure to industry practices,” life sciences instructor Sohiel Memarsadeghi said, “

Along with the remodeled space is a new interdisciplinary class with four sections, open to only 16 students per semester.

According to the OMC article, the class, “Special Topics: Interdisciplinary Life Sciences” is intended for all science majors including physics, data science, mathematics, chemistry and biology. The students will have three 50-minute lectures and two 90-minute lab sessions a week.

MAI Construction, the company who remodeled the space, stated in a newsletter that the class will simulate real-world practices, which include biotech operations, functions and investigatory work. The course prepares students to enter a variety of fields including stem cell research, personalized medicine and immuno-oncology, a type of cancer treatment.

Memarsadeghi said that the lab’s speedy construction ended just in time to get materials set up for his first class on Jan. 23. After the first week, he noticed how engaged and receptive his students have been in the new environment.

Michael Bowe, one of the lab’s managers, said that the classes include new learning techniques.

For example, in order to mimic a professional environment, students will have the opportunity to use advanced technologies, including the IncuCyte live cell imaging system. “This technology platform essentially combines a microscope with an incubator and enables scientists to study kinetic cell biology,” according to the OMC article.

Vickie L. Banti, MAI’s director of business development, would not share specific financial information with the Foghorn. The MAI newsletter, however, stated that the project was under budget.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *