The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston will expand its current research facilities to include 93,000 square feet of critically needed space for its growing research activities.

The University of Texas System Board of Regents on Dec. 12 approved the amendment of the UTMB Capital Improvement Plan to include a $42 million addition to its research facilities at Building 17 on the Galveston campus. The approved action also allocated $30.5 million of Permanent University Fund proceeds, which will augment $11.5 million in bonds to fund the $42 million project.

“We are extremely grateful for the Board of Regents’ continued investment in UTMB and its Galveston campus,” said Dr. David L. Callender, president of UTMB. “This project assures the future of our world-class research enterprise and provides us with state-of-the-art facilities that are resilient and that support our institution’s strategic mission.”

The ground floor of the six-story facility will house non-critical functions such as a lobby and meeting space, in compliance with UTMB’s post-Hurricane Ike mitigation standards. Two floors will house research support facilities, including veterinary and pharmacy space. One floor will be dedicated to mechanical space, and two floors will be shelled during initial construction for future use as laboratory space.

UTMB lost one of its critical research facilities, Building 18, to irreparable damage in Hurricane Ike in late 2008. That building was recently demolished, making room for the new facility at 11th and Strand.

“With this addition, UTMB will have the opportunity to improve its overall ranking in the national and international research arena by attracting National Institutes of Health and other federally-funded grants,” Callender said. “The new facility will also enhance our ability to attract top scientists to join UTMB’s research enterprise.”

UTMB expects to complete design and obtain final approval to begin construction by March 2015. The new research building should be complete and occupied by March 2017.