NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ-Construction has officially started for a $150-million, 18-story medical research tower Downtown. Among other things, the building will house the Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey, which will occupy 160,000 sf across five full floors.

“The Institute will serve as the nexus of cutting-edge scientific breakthroughs that will improve and save lives of millions of our fellow citizens,” says Gov. Jon Corzine. “As we build this institute, we are building on a longstanding commitment to ensure that New Jersey is a world leader in the stem cell revolution.”

The Institute is a joint venture between Rutgers University and the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. The building will rise on a former parking lot next to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, near the Cancer Institute of New Jersey. Completion is slated for early 2011.

State, university and hospital officials have also announced that the facility will include the Christopher Reeve Pavilion, named for the late actor, a Princeton native, who became an activist for stem cell research following his paralyzing horse riding accident in 1995. The Stem Cell Institute itself will include a combination of research, clinical study and outpatient treatment facilities.

The money for the building is coming from state funds. A year ago, Corzine signed into law a bill providing $270 million to build a variety of research facilities. In June, almost $9.2 million in predevelopment funding was approved for the Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey, the initial allocation from that $270 million. And in July, Corzine signed the New Jersey Stem Cell Research Bond Act, a $450-million bond referendum that will provide research grants to eligible institutions over a 10-year period. The act will be on the agenda for the state’s voters in next month’s elections.

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