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Abilene SOP to Expand Research Facilities

At its December meeting, the Texas Tech University System Board of Regents approved construction of a 13,000 square-foot expansion of the existing laboratory space for the SOP’s Center for Immunotherapeutic Research (CIR) in Abilene. The new space will consist of office and laboratory space for 10 faculty researchers and is tentatively scheduled to open in June.

According to Dr. Jon Weidanz, an associate professor for the Department of Biomedical Sciences, the CIR currently includes nearly 3,100 square feet with roughly 2,000 square feet available as laboratory space for five faculty investigators. He said the CIR is actively seeking a sixth faculty investigator.

“I went to the Abilene community leaders about 10 months ago and discussed our progress at the center and our future growth needs,” Weidanz said. “As always, the leaders understood the situation and bought into the vision. We discussed a reasonable number of faculty members required to reach what I call critical mass. I suggested 10 faculty and staff, so a plan was put forth to build enough new space to accommodate up to 10 faculty members and their teams. My hope is that we will have up to 40 researchers — faculty, graduate students, post-docs, research technicians and staff — at the SOP within the next few years.”

The new addition will be constructed at the site of the existing Abilene campus on land donated by Hendrick Medical Center. Construction costs will be covered by a $3 million gift from the Development Corporation of Abilene, the Dodge Jones Foundation and the Dian Graves Owen Foundation.

“This is a very important development for the SOP,” Weidanz said. “It will hopefully provide a way to grow research and educational programs and further promote recognition of the SOP and TTUHSC. It is also extremely important for the Abilene campus as it begins to brand us and showcase our successes; CIR faculty have been successful in competing for highly competitive extramural funding, which speaks to the caliber of faculty we have been able to recruit to the SOP Abilene campus.”