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University declines NIH expansion grant
for Bingham research facility

For now, the University has decided to maintain and operate the Bingham Facility at its current size instead of expanding the western Orange County research facility. The higher-than-anticipated cost of necessary infrastructure upgrades drove the decision.

William Roper, dean of the School of Medicine and principal investigator, notified the National Institutes of Health last week that the University would relinquish the $14.5 million federal grant awarded in April that would have funded the construction of two new buildings to house additional animals for research on genetic diseases.

“The cost to the institution to support this construction is beyond our capability at this time,” Roper said in a letter to the NIH. “I believe the most responsible course of action is to decline the award.”

It will take some time for University administrators to determine future plans for the research facility, Robert Lowman, associate vice chancellor for research, said in an e-mail to people who live near the Bingham Facility.

“We are committed to making the appropriate upgrades to the wastewater treatment system that will comply with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ permit requirements for protecting public health and the environment,” he said.

The University will communicate any decisions with neighbors and meet with them when future plans for the facility are determined, Lowman said.

“Until those plans are complete, the University will continue to maintain and operate the Bingham Facility at its present size,” he told neighbors.

The Bingham Facility, which focuses on the genetic diseases hemophilia and muscular dystrophy, has been in operation since the 1970s.

The 30,000-square-foot expansion would have consolidated research operations in one central facility.

In addition to the dog colonies already housed there, Bingham would have become the new home of the Frances Owen Blood Research Laboratory and its colonies of dogs and swine and another colony of dogs used to study muscular dystrophy.

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Aug. 11, 2010

Aug. 11 Gazette

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