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NEWARK, NJ-Part of inner-city Newark, NJ is being reborn as a cutting-edge health research facility on a 50-acre site within the new University Heights Science Park. The $78-million project, the International Center for Public Health, is actually made up of three components–the National Tuberculosis Center, which is part of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ (UMDNJ), the university’s Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics and the Public Health Research Institute. The latter entity is relocating to Newark from across the river in New York City.

Actually, the project is a collaboration of considerable academic and research prowess. Besides the UMDNJ, Rutgers University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Essex County College are all involved. The institutions’ leaders sit on a panel called the Council on Higher Education in Newark, along with city officials and business leaders.

When the project was first announced last year, officials promised that it would have mixed uses besides just the research activity. Interestingly, the initial non-research use that will be built is Science Park Village, a 125-unit housing project. It’s all part of an effort to re-establish residential communities within Newark, which has seen people move out in significant numbers over the last four decades. The current population of about 250,000 pales compared to the nearly 450,000 the city had at its peak in the late 1950s.

According to Jeanette Brummell, executive director of University Heights Science Park, plans are in the works to add a magnet science facility, a technology high school, and an office component. The latter would include an expansion of the business incubation program currently operated by NJIT.

The International Center for Public Health, which broke ground earlier this year, is being aided by $48 million provided by the NJ Economic Development Authority in Trenton. Another $18 million in funding has come from the state of NJ and Federal sources, and the Prudential Foundation is adding its monetary support.

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