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SEATTLE-The University of Washington received a $70 million gift late last week, the vast majority of which will help fund a 265,000-sf facility dedicated to Genome Sciences and Bioengineering.

The gift was from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in deference to the fact that three of the key architects of the Human Genome Project are UW faculty. Indirectly, the gift also supports fellow Microsoft founder Paul Allen, who is making an effort of his own to turn Seattle into a hub of biotech activity.

The $150-million Genome Sciences and Bioengineering building will be located at the south end of Seattle’s University District, at the southeast corner of Pacific Street and 15th Avenue Northeast. The future building will be shared by the departments of Genome Sciences and Bioengineering.

About $60 million of the gift will go directly to that effort. The remaining $10 million will be applied to collaborative global health programs at the UW related to genome sciences.

UW Genome Sciences faculty, Drs. Philip P. Green, Maynard V. Olson and Robert H. Waterston, were among the eight leading genome scientists worldwide to receive the highly prestigious Gairdner International Award in 2002.

Genome science seeks to address leading-edge questions in biology, medicine and global health by developing and applying genetic, genomic and computational approaches in the search for biomedical treatments and cures. These approaches build on the recently decoded genomic sequences for humans and other species.

“This building and other research space under development at the south end of Lake Union will allow us to lead this research and to successfully compete for future funding,” says Waterson, who joined the UW faculty in January 2003 as professor and first chair of genome sciences.

The research space under development in the South Lake Union neighborhood is what Allen is up to in the industry. Allen has accumulated 50 acres in the area and has two major biotech development projects underway.

The UW’s new Genome Sciences and Bioengineering will include a mix of biomedical research laboratories with associated support facilities. Construction is scheduled to begin in August and is expected to open in phases beginning in the fall of 2005.

The building was designed by Anshen + Allen of Los Angeles. The general contractor and construction manager is Hoffman Construction. Additional funding for the building includes $12 million from the federal government, $10 million from the Whitaker Foundation and gifts from other private sources.

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