Last Thursday marked a new day for the University’s research mission as Marsico Hall – a glassy, nine-story, state-of-the-art research building – officially opened for business at a dedication ceremony.
“This building will house faculty, students and staff who are going to push the boundaries of human knowledge and change people’s lives forever,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt, who presided over the dedication.
“Thanks to the commitment of the N.C. General Assembly and the people of North Carolina, talented researchers from the School of Medicine and the Eshelman School of Pharmacy will develop new therapies to treat diseases and new vaccines to prevent them entirely.”
Among the speakers for the dedication of the new facility, the third largest building at Carolina, were UNC President Tom Ross and Lowry Caudill, chair of Carolina’s Board of Trustees.
“I want to underscore that we have not gathered here to celebrate the additional square footage,” Ross said. “What will emanate from here is what really counts. The boundless potential of interdisciplinary research that will take place in these fabulous new labs brings renewed hope for better treatments and eventually cures for cystic fibrosis, cancers, autoimmune disorders and a multitude of other diseases.
“This world-class facility will provide a showcase for what the world’s best scientists can accomplish.”
The building will house the Marsico Lung Institute and the Biomedical Research Imaging Center. It will also house researchers from the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and those from the Eshelman School of Pharmacy and the School of Medicine who are doing work in nanomedicine, microbiology and immunology, and pharmaco-engineering.
The 340,000-square-foot building will be home to world-class imaging equipment, including a hybrid MRI/PET whole body scanner, a 7 Tesla MRI whole body scanner and a cyclotron – a machine used to create the isotopes that researchers and clinicians use in their cutting-edge imaging techniques.
UNC and Massachusetts General Hospital, in affiliation with Harvard, are the only two academic medical institutions in the United States that will house all three pieces of technology at one site. The synergy of these machines and the top-notch researchers working with them, makes Marsico Hall arguably one of the most powerful imaging centers in the world.
Formerly referred to as the Imaging Research Building, Marsico Hall was named to honor Thomas Marsico, a Denver-based philanthropist who has made substantial contributions to the University. He is chair and chief executive officer of Marsico Capital Management LLC, and father of two UNC alumni.
“This is an overwhelming experience,” Marsico said at the dedication.
For years, Marsico’s philanthropy has been anonymous, but University administrators convinced him to accept this honor. Marsico said that he, his wife and his family wanted to invest in an area that could some day truly make a difference: lung and pulmonary disease.
Marsico Hall was paid for through state appropriations in 2009. The N.C. General Assembly allocated $243.5 million for construction, and Carolina provided the remaining $1.5 million.