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UW Medical School to build Health Sciences Learning Center

MADISON – The University of Wisconsin-Madison Medical School has a new home: Health Sciences Learning Center, a $55 million, 160,600-square-foot building that will unify the health sciences on the UW-Madison campus.

“Part of this is about creating the future of medicine,” said Paul DeLuca, associate dean for research and graduate studies at UW Medical School.

The center will bring together medicine, nursing, pharmacy and physical therapy students in one facility. DeLuca said the Medical School’s new headquarters will help foster interaction among the disciplines. It will also serve as a symbol of the school’s growth into an institution that earned $110 million in federal research grants in 2001-’02, more than double what it received 10 years before that.

In the 24 examination rooms of the building’s clinical assessment center, students will practice on mock patients, then watch their own performance captured on video. And the entire building will offer wireless Internet access for students and staff who have laptop computers.

The Medical School used to be located in Wisconsin General Hospital on University Avenue, a building that opened in 1924 and is starting to show its age. The new facility is adjacent to the Clinical Science Center, which houses UW Hospital and UW Clinics, on the west edge of campus. Faculty and staff are already preparing to move to their new offices starting in June and teach classes in the building this fall.
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The School of Nursing has announced plans to move 90 percent of its classes into the new building this fall. “This facility, with its focus on interdisciplinary instruction, will help us enormously as we educate the healthcare providers of tomorrow,” said School of Nursing Dean Katharyn May.

May noted that nursing classes have been taught in crowded classrooms in the Clinical Science Center for 25 years. The new Health Sciences Learning Center will include four extra-large halls, one with 350 seats. While not as big as Ingraham Hall’s room B10, which has 503 seats, or Agriculture Hall’s auditorium, which has 593, it will still rank with some of the larger rooms in Psychology, Engineering Hall and other central university buildings.

In order to bring the various health-science fields even closer, the campus’s three health science libraries will consolidate into Ebling Library, which will provide room for 350 and span three floors. Middleton Health Sciences Library, Powers Pharmaceutical Library and Weston Clinical Sciences center Library will all move their staff and collections to Ebling.

Construction began in 2001 and was officially finished at a May 7 dedication, where Gov. Jim Doyle and Medical School Dean Philip Farrell said the new facility would serve the state as a whole.

“Today, we are redefining our capacity as a statewide resource as we dedicate this new and vital expression of the Wisconsin Idea, which extends the influence of this great university to the far corners of the state,” Farrell said. “With this building, we clearly see the emergence of one of the finest health sciences campuses in the country.”

DeLuca said the new facility was not just meant as an aid for instruction, but for research as well. Part of the goal he has in mind for this building is to put research from different disciplines in a central location in order to speed up the pace of medical advances by making researchers more aware of each other.

“We’ll be able to take new discoveries and apply them to human disease,” DeLuca said.

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