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Expanded space boosts cutting-edge research in infectious diseases and immunology

Jan. 29, 2024, 10:44 AM

Renovated, multifunctional laboratory space opens this month for the Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology and Inflammation. (photo by Donn Jones)
Renovated, multifunctional laboratory space opens this month for the Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology and Inflammation. (photo by Donn Jones)

The Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology and Inflammation (VI4) continues to grow with the opening this month of renovated research space.

The state-of-the-art facilities in Medical Center North represent a third phase in the expansion of facilities for the institute, which was created in 2017 as a key initiative of the VUMC Strategic Directions. VI4 provides a transinstitutional framework for growing and supporting the community of investigators at VUMC and Vanderbilt University who are involved in research related to immunology and infectious diseases.

The open-design, transdepartmental space reflects VUMC’s commitment to fostering cutting-edge research in infectious diseases and immunology. (photo by Donn Jones)
The open-design, transdepartmental space reflects VUMC’s commitment to fostering cutting-edge research in infectious diseases and immunology. (photo by Donn Jones)

“This newly renovated, multifunctional space marks another milestone in our ongoing commitment to fostering cutting-edge research in infectious diseases and immunology,” said Jennifer Pietenpol, PhD, Chief Scientific and Strategy Officer and Executive Vice President for Research for VUMC.

“The open-design, transdepartmental VI4 space is a testament to our research community’s collaborative culture and innovative drive. We are excited about the potential of these new resources to accelerate discoveries and improve health care outcomes, consistent with Vanderbilt’s role as a leader in medical research,” said Pietenpol, holder of the Brock Family Directorship in Career Development.

The renovated space houses facilities for wet-lab experiments and dry-lab computational analyses, faculty offices and VI4 administrative support.

“This newly opened space is a further demonstration of VUMC and Vanderbilt’s commitment to growth in infection- and immunology-related research and highlights the success of VI4 in bringing this community together and growing the Medical Center and University’s reputation in these areas,” said Eric Skaar, PhD, MPH, director of VI4 and Ernest W. Goodpasture Professor of Pathology. “The VI4 physical space represents a rare example of a truly transdepartmental research facility, where scientists are brought together based on shared interests and the goal of making meaningful discoveries that will impact clinical care.”

The renovated space houses facilities like these cold rooms for wet-lab experiments along with space for dry-lab computational analyses, faculty offices and VI4 administrative support. (photo by Donn Jones)
The renovated space houses facilities like these cold rooms for wet-lab experiments along with space for dry-lab computational analyses, faculty offices and VI4 administrative support. (photo by Donn Jones)

VI4 facilities house investigators with primary faculty appointments in the Departments of Medicine, Pediatrics, Dermatology, Pharmacology, and Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, demonstrating the integrated nature of the institute’s physical space, Skaar noted.

The new expanded space also includes dedicated space for the VANDy-CdV program, an effort to discover vaccines to protect against Clostridioides difficile infection that is supported by a $7.85 million grant from the National Institutes of Health and led by Borden Lacy, PhD, the Edward and Nancy Fody Professor of Pathology.

“Importantly, the newly created space also contains laboratories that will be used for recruiting, so that VI4 can continue to build on its positive momentum and bring outstanding early-career scientists to Vanderbilt,” Skaar said.

The VI4 physical footprint now includes more than 30,000 square feet of wet-bench research space on the fourth and fifth floors of Medical Center North, a multimedia studio on the second floor and space at 2525 West End dedicated to the Program in Computational Microbiology and Immunology directed by Ivelin Georgiev, PhD, associate professor of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology. A Biosafety Level 3 laboratory, used to study agents that cause potentially lethal disease by inhalation, is scheduled to open in Light Hall in 2025, and planning for additional phases of expansion is underway.

VI4 currently includes about 150 faculty members.

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