June 04, 2024

How we invest, Part 3: Investing in space and equipment

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How we invest 2In a three-part series, Heersink School of Medicine is looking into how we invest in our people, awards, equipment, and space.

This week, we are exploring the many ways Heersink invests in cutting-edge equipment and modernizing spaces for our enterprise.

Creating innovative environments

New and modern space and top-of-the-line technology are paramount for an academic medical center to remain at the forefront of innovation and excellence in healthcare.

By providing state-of-the-art facilities, UAB can attract top talented recruits, foster interdisciplinary collaboration, facilitate research discoveries, and provide excellent clinical care.

This environment not only enhances patient outcomes but also elevates the institution's reputation, driving advancements in medical education, research discovery, and patient-centered care.

Buildings and space: IRCP promotes research excellence

One example of how space impacts outcome and drives progress is the Institutional Research Core Program (IRCP).

The IRCP was created to promote the development and operation of outstanding Core Facilities that can serve the needs of UAB investigators.

The program aids Cores in developing sound business plans, preparing, and implementing robust standard operating and quality assurance procedures, providing customer-focused service to facilitate the advancement of research and scholarship, and to assist in maintaining the financial stability of the core.

Currently, 15 institutional research core facilities are in IRCP. Read more about the program.

Buildings and space: Past and current projects

UAB Medicine Master Plan Investment 03112024 1In the last five years, UAB Medicine has invested over $200 million in total construction, which includes over $60 million in new construction and over $125 million in renovations.

New buildings or spaces include several projects, such as the Altec/Styslinger Genomic Medicine and Data Sciences Building, which is set to be completed by Spring 2025 and will revolutionize precision medicine, informatics, and data sciences at UAB. The building will increase UAB's research capacity by 16 percent, and help scientists generate an additional $100 million in new grants. In addition to the building's expansion, the exterior features an eye-catching double-helix design with bird-safe glass windows.

Currently, there are around 50 ongoing projects for building maintenance and improvements—with two major renovations in the McCallum Basic Health Science Building and the former Lyons Harrison Research Building. The last phase of McCallum is expected to finish this year.

Other key projects over the past five years that have either been completed or are still underway include the new Inpatient Rehabilitation Pavilion, a new Medical West hospital in McCalla, Alabama, and additions to the Nursing Units at the Women and Infants Center and UAB Highlands. In Volker Hall, the new Heersink Family Active Learning Center will enable a collaborative learning approach for medical students, modernizing the learning experience. Similarly, renovations on the fourth and fifth floors of Volker installed two relaxation spaces, including individual and group seating.

The Sports Medicine Clinic at UAB Highlands was established, as well as the Memory Disorder Clinic in Callahan Eye Hospital on Floor 5.

Too, the UAB Medicine Clinic at Lee Branch and the Graduate Medical Education Wellness Center in West Pavilion opened recently.

UAB leadership realizes the concern for our aging buildings and up-to-date maintenance and is progressively managing improvements in existing facilities.

A few recent renovations include Cath Lab renovations in the Heart and Vascular Clinic and The Kirklin Clinic, as well as Interventional Pulmonology Lab renovations.

Equipment and technology: Past and current acquisitions

Investments in our equipment and technology are equally important as investing in our space, and leadership is committed to ensuring the most top-notch research and clinical equipment and technology.

For instance, surgical robots and the Cryo-EM have been acquired in the last five years. The Cryo-Electron Microscopy Facility advances the overall UAB mission by supporting cryo-EM applications in making new scientific discoveries. The facility offers access and training in using cutting-edge cryo-EM technology and techniques for the characterization of biological samples from the cellular to the atomic scale.

In equipment renovations, CT and MR replacements have occurred at North Pavilion, UAB Highlands, The Kirklin Clinic, and Boshell; advanced endoscopy renovations have occurred throughout the hospital.

Magneto-encephalography lab replacements, comprehensive telemetry system expansions, and comprehensive physiological monitoring system replacements have occurred.

S10 grants help us invest and innovate

“Since 2020, UAB has received $7.9M in S10 grants,” says Mike Bertram, Ph.D., MBA, director of the UAB Institutional Research Core Program. “All were awarded to HSOM Faculty with support from the Heersink School of Medicine.”

An NIH-funded S10 grant is part of the Shared Instrumentation Grant Program, which aims to support the purchase of expensive, specialized, and state-of-the-art instrumentation for research.

These grants are awarded to groups of investigators focused on biomedical and behavioral research. They are intended to enhance the capabilities of institutions to conduct cutting-edge research.

S10 grants specifically target the acquisition of instruments that cost at least $50,000, allowing researchers access to top-notch equipment. A recent example is the S10 award to Stephen Barnes, Ph.D., for the purchase of a state-of-the-art SCIEX ZenoTOF 7600 microflow LC system that will enable high end metabolomics work.

Towards the future

Investing in new equipment and space is essential for maintaining and enhancing competitiveness in the ever-evolving scientific and health care landscape.

As we look ahead, several projects are on the horizon for investments in our space, technology, and equipment. Over the next five years, UAB Medicine is anticipated to invest over $850 million.

A few examples include expanding the North Pavilion Emergency Department, replacing surgical lights, booms, and video integration, off-site sterile instrumentation processing at Avondale, PET-CT expansion in Wallace Tumor Institute and in the Quarterback Tower, and replacing the Omnicell Medication Dispensing System and imaging equipment OR 520.

At UAB Highlands, a CT scanner and hot water systems are planned to be replaced. Elevators will be refurbished at UAB Hospital.


All in all, at Heersink School of Medicine, we believe in investing in the people, technology, and initiatives that provide the most excellent care to our patients, their families, and our local communities.

In case you missed it, read part 1 on how we invest in people here or part 2 on how we invest in funding here.