Duke's Board of Trustees approved plans Thursday to build a new medical sciences research building on Research Drive.

The MSRB III building is intended to expand the University's investment in research and will be home exclusively to bench lab research, according to a Duke Today release. Although the Board only gave official approval Thursday, preliminary work started during Memorial Day weekend, paving the way for the 155,000 square-foot, $103 million building. The building is expected to be completed by Fall 2018 at the latest.

“The school’s last major research building on campus was built in 2006 and the long-term sustainability of our research mission clearly requires additional space on the campus," said Scott Gibson, executive vice dean for administration at the School of Medicine, in the release.

Duke already has two medical science research buildings—MSRB I and II—but the need for more research space remains, Gibson said. The new MSRB III will be smaller than its predecessors, with MSRB I at 190,000 square-feet and MSRB II 165,000 square-feet.

"As we’ve grown, we’ve had to squeeze and be creative about where we put new researchers and we’ve reached a point where that’s just not possible any longer, even with the innovative space we have leased in downtown Durham,” Gibson said in the release.

In addition, Duke will continue to expand its leases in the so-called Durham Innovation District in downtown Durham by adding 100,000 square-feet of research space in the Chesterfield building.

“Importantly, Biolab NC also will lease space in the [Chesterfield] building as shared lab space for startup and growing life science companies," Gibson said. "That offers us an opportunity to create research collaborations with industry."

The construction of an office tower near Durham Center Building at Morgan and Morris streets is also in the works and will allow the Duke Clinical Research Institute to relocate from its current location near the Duke Hospital.

MSRB III and the other initiatives are not intended to rearrange research on campus but to add to it, Raphael Valdivia, vice dean for basic science, explained.

“It will allow us to create research synergies and build thematically aligned groups that will expand and strengthen our research portfolio," Valdivia said in the release.