New building, new advances

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will have access to powerful medical equipment that will help UNC better address the health needs of North Carolinians in a state-of-the-art facility that was dedicated Thursday.

Marsico Hall, located on Mason Farm Road, will house basic and translational research across several disciplines. It will feature imaging equipment that will fundamentally advance knowledge of cancer and many other complex diseases.

“Major advances in nanomedicine, drug discovery and delivery, and biomedical imaging are within our reach,” says Robert Blouin, dean of the UNC School of Pharmacy. “The environment, technology, and people within Marsico Hall will make these advances possible. The discoveries made here will drive the economy of the state and improve the health of North Carolinians and people around the world.”

Marsico Hall, formerly called the IRB building or the BRIC building, was dedicated at 3:30 p.m.

Some of the world’s most powerful diagnostic imaging tools

The building is huge: 340,000-square feet spread out over nine stories in the heart of UNC’s Health Affairs campus. More impressive is what will be housed inside the facility. The world-class imaging equipment includes a hybrid MRI/PET whole body scanner, a 7 Tesla MRI whole body scanner and a cyclotron. Together, each device optimizes the capabilities of the others, making these devices some of the most powerful diagnostic imaging tools in the world . UNC and Massachusetts General Hospital, in affiliation with Harvard University, are currently the only two academic medical centers in the country that have these three imaging devices in one location.

Researchers from UNC’s School of Medicine and the Eshelman School of Pharmacy’s life-saving research programs will work in Marsico Hall. The building will also include the Marsico Lung Institute, the Biomedical Research Imaging Center, and researchers from UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, nanomedicine, microbiology and immunology, and pharmaco-engineering.

Funds for the building were provided by the people of North Carolina through state appropriations to further the research mission of UNC-Chapel Hill. The facility has a total project cost of $245 million, with the N.C. General Assembly providing $243.5 million to construct the building and UNC providing the remaining $1.5 million. As the only new public building funded by the state in 2009, Marsico Hall will have a significant impact on North Carolina’s economy and UNC’s commitment to scientific discovery.

A gift from the people of North Carolina

“We are grateful for the state’s generous contributions that have made Marsico Hall a reality,” said Bill Roper, dean of the School of Medicine and vice chancellor for medical affairs and chief executive officer of the UNC Health Care System. “Because of the state’s investment, students and faculty will be able to further advance scientific discovery and the delivery of care for North Carolinians and beyond – all in a leading-edge facility. This building is a gift from the people of North Carolina, and it is with great pride that we dedicate the building to them and to the advancement of the health sciences.”

The building is named after Thomas F. Marsico of Denver, chairman and chief executive officer of Marsico Capital Management, LLC and father of two UNC alumni, for his lifetime contributions to the School of Medicine.

Dignitaries speaking at today’s ceremony include: Chancellor Carol L. Folt; Thomas Ross, president of the University of North Carolina; Aldona Wos, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services; Lowry Caudill, chair of the UNC Board of Trustees; Blouin; Roper; and Marsico.

By Thania Benios and Natalie Vizuete, University Relations.

Published March 27, 2014.