An endeavor two years in the making, Duke finally opened its new campus in Research Triangle Park in September.
The space is designed to promote collaboration between members of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute, the School of Medicine and nearby biotech companies as they tackle challenges related to infectious disease research.
“We all share a common scientific interest of developing new vaccines and therapies for infectious disease,” said Thomas Denny, professor of medicine and chief operating officer of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute.
In 2020, the DHVI was chosen to be a part of the Collaborative Influenza Vaccine Innovation Centers (CIVICs) program, through which they received a multimillion dollar federal grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Due to a lack of adequate lab space on campus, School of Medicine leadership decided to use the funds to lease the new research campus for the next 15 years.
The research hub, previously occupied by pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, will be home to fourteen principal investigators from the DHVI and the School of Medicine. This includes Professor of Surgery Georgia Tomaras, Professor of Medicine Greg Sempowski and M. Anthony Moody, professor of pediatrics and immunology, all of whom are investigators for Duke CIVICs.
“Many other investigators at Duke who are experts in infectious diseases will be at RTP, including the CIVICs influenza teams,” said Stephanie Langel, medical instructor in the Duke department of surgery, who works with Tomaras. “This will allow for sharing of resources and ideas and fostering collaborations.”
Langel noted that many of the resources she needs that would have been found on Duke’s main campus, including flow cytometry cores, an accessioning unit and animal space, will also be available at the RTP location.
Prior to the new campus’ opening, a number of teams from DHVI have been scattered across multiple buildings on Duke’s campus. This was part of the reason for expanding into the RTP location.
“My team has grown over the last 15 years, and over that time, my lab team has grown every year,” Denny explained. “On campus, my team is divided up into five buildings. When my team moves here in October, they'll all be on the third floor of the building. It will be a much more efficient operation.”
Langel called the campus a “beautiful and enjoyable place to work.”
“The offices and labs are spacious, my office overlooks a beautiful pond, and there are tons of walking trails and greenspace,” she said.
The RTP location features a “treehouse” conference room with a panoramic view of the campus, hallways lined with whiteboards for researchers to pen down their spontaneous ideas and even an ice hockey rink. This falls in line with the overall mission of sparking creativity and collaboration among researchers while maintaining a relaxed atmosphere.
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All labs planning to move into the RTP campus hope to do so by August 2022.