Published 11/11/17 in the Daily Record
The latest glass building to complete construction on the University of Maryland’s College Park campus, A. James Clark Hall will house the university’s fast-growing bioengineering department, but its impact could stretch beyond campus.
The 184,000-square-foot facility, dedicated Friday by campus officials, will also house collaborations with the University of Maryland, Baltimore and its School of Medicine.
“At the center of the region’s biotech corridor, Clark Hall will offer new opportunities for engineers across all eight disciplines to connect with experts from the University of Maryland School of Medicine on innovations that will change the course of human health for decades to come,” said John Fisher, chair of the bioengineering department. “In this way, researchers from both the College Park and Baltimore campuses can utilize resources housed within Clark Hall to tackle challenges in areas ranging from cancer therapeutics and diagnostics to rehabilitation robotics and tissue engineering.”
The total cost of Clark Hall was $168 million. Support for the hall included a $15 million donation from the late A. James Clark and a $6 million donation from biomedical device inventor Robert E. Fischell.
Last year, the state legislature formalized the partnership between the university’s Baltimore and College Park campuses, hoping to spur more collaboration and innovation. Last month, the two campuses announced several joint ventures, and Clark Hall looks to further the partnership.
Two faculty members for both the Baltimore and College Park campuses will be housed in Clark Hall.
Zhongjun Wu, a professor of surgery at the School of Medicine, does basic and applied research of cardiovascular and pulmonary disease and the fundamental technical problems associated with artificial and bio-hybrid organ development. His projects include ventricular assist devices, artificial pumping lungs and computational design and modeling of biomedical devices.
Professor Li-Qun Zhang’s work includes developing single and multi-joint robotics for the diagnosis, treatment and evaluation of neurological disorders and musculoskeletal injuries.
Students in the bioengineering department working on capstone projects will also have advisers from the University of Maryland, Baltimore.
The hope is that the collaboration between the two campuses will improve the learning opportunities and allow for more work between doctors and researchers in Baltimore and engineers in College Park.
“Great ideas will turn into life-changing devices and biomedical treatments in this magnificent research building,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “Our students, faculty, researchers and partners will have what they need to produce bioengineering marvels, as well as advances in other fields.”
The Robert E. Fischell Institute for Biomedical Devices will also reside on both campuses. While its primary home will be at Clark Hall, it will also have offices at the UM BioPark in Baltimore. The institute received FDA funding and received some state funds through the legislation that formalized the partnership between the campuses.
The institute will focus on the research and development of new technologies to promote health.
The building will include FDA-funded Centers of Excellence in regulatory science and pediatric device innovation. It will also have the 6,800-square-foot Leidos Innovation Lab, designed for students to work on cross-disciplinary research and designs.
Other features include lab space with movable workbenches, classrooms that can be lecture halls or hold discussion groups, and student club rooms to give space to startups, competition teams and other groups.
“Clark Hall embodies the future of multidisciplinary engineering with human impact,” said Darryll J. Pines, dean of the Clark School of Engineering. “Our engineers have a long history of life-changing innovations, from the implantable insulin pump to 3-D printed vascular grafts. These state-of-the-art facilities will create the next generation of engineers who will advance human health worldwide, transforming millions of lives.”