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Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute Building Opens March 4

Stunning structure will house array of scientists and centers dedicated to speeding basic research into new treatments and therapies


  • Scott LaFee

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  • Scott LaFee

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Rising above Interstate 5 on the east campus of University of California, San Diego, the Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute Building (ACTRI), a five-sided polygon of glass, steel and grooved concrete, officially opens its doors March 4 in a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“The building is an architectural marvel, but more important is what it represents and the work that will go on inside,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “The ACTRI is a tangible, all-in commitment by this university to translate advances of basic science into new and effective treatments and cures for our patients. It is testament to our mission and determination to help make people – and the world – healthier, faster.”

The Clinical and Translational Research Institute (CTRI) at UC San Diego was established in 2010, part of a national consortium of 60 medical research institutions created to energize bench-to-bedside efforts. The initial five-year $37.2 million grant from the National Center for Advancing Translational Science, part of the National Institutes of Health, was followed last year with a $52 million grant renewal. The new award recognizes the Institute’s success in creating innovative programs that advance medical science and treatments.

In 2011, Steve and Lisa Altman, long-time San Diego residents and philanthropists, donated $10 million to construction and development of the building.

“The first five years of Institute were transformative,” said Gary S. Firestein, MD, director of CTRI and dean and associate vice chancellor of translational medicine at UC San Diego. “These next five years will be about accelerating and expanding our progress.”

The ACTRI building will provide infrastructure and support to basic, translational and clinical research throughout the region, conducted by more than 1,000 faculty and institutional partners. It serves as coordinating center for health sciences programs spanning two universities: the School of Medicine and Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at UC San Diego and the schools of Nursing and Public Health at San Diego State University, plus collaborations with Rady School of Management and Jacobs School of Engineering, both at UC San Diego.

The Institute helps develop and manage more than 160 clinical trials each year, ranging from an imaging agent for women with primary breast cancer undergoing surgery to stem cell-derived therapy for Type 1 diabetes. It provides researchers and institutions with services such as trial design, data analysis and training, with doctoral and community outreach programs in bioinformatics, clinical psychology, communicative disorders and more.

The new building exemplifies growth of clinical and translational science at UC San Diego, both in size and diversity. The seven-story structure encompasses 359,000 square feet of offices, laboratories and clinical space and will house a multitude of distinct research endeavors. Among them: the Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study, the Center for Cannabis Research, the Type 1 Diabetes Research Center, the Musculoskeletal Science Center, the Center for Multimodal Imaging and Genomics and the departments of gastroenterology, hepatology and ophthalmology.  

“In one building, you’ll have basic scientists working on a better understanding of disease while, just feet away, participants in clinical trials are putting that understanding to the test in the form of new drugs or treatments,” said David Brenner, MD, vice chancellor, UC San Diego Health Sciences and dean of UC San Diego School of Medicine. “We literally connect science to medicine, with an actual bridge that joins our researchers to the Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center, Thornton Pavilion and the new Jacobs Medical Center beyond. There are not many places in the world like ACTRI.”

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