BioForge may sound like something out of a sci-fi novel, but it’s very real – and it happens to Hazelwood Green.
The Richard King Mellon Foundation made its biggest single donation in history, with $ 100 million for the University of Pittsburgh. The money will help fund BioForge, an approximately 200,000 square foot building that allows Pitt researchers to advance life science research.
Some ongoing research is poised to relocate to BioForge’s facilities once they are built, including work on modified gene and cell therapy, microneedles and other new therapies, delivery technologies and the development of micro- and nano-antibodies.
âThe Foundation is making a historic bet on Pittsburgh to be a national leader in the life sciences. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that we need to discover and manufacture breakthroughs in healthcare right here at home, âsaid Richard King Mellon Foundation director Sam Reiman in a statement. Press release. âAnd we are even more eager to lead in this sector because of its potential to generate employment opportunities to support family that are accessible to all of our communities. “
BioForge is still in its early stages of development – it shouldn’t be up and running for five years, and the exact details of where it will be in Hazelwood Green and how many it will employ are still being sorted out.
Still, Pitt and the foundation are already thinking big. The facility will be equipped to handle advanced biofabrication projects and conduct cutting-edge life science research across multiple disciplines. It’s not about making pills or other drugs; Instead, BioForge will work with materials such as cells and monoclonal antibodies, such as those used to treat COVID-19.
It will also serve as an incubator for other life science start-ups, providing more opportunities for this type of work in the Pittsburgh area and fostering work that is already being done here.
“Pittsburgh is poised to become the next global hub for life sciences and biotechnology,” said Anantha Shekhar, Pitt’s senior vice-chancellor for health sciences, in a press release. âThe talent we have in this region is unmatched. This donation from the Richard King Mellon Foundation will allow us to create a space strategy for all these talents to flourish and engage in cutting-edge research. Our shared vision of building an engine of innovation in medicine and education with UPMC, industry and the Hazelwood community will spur new solutions and opportunities for generations to come.
Hazel green, a former industrial site near the city center, is emerging as a hub of technological innovation while remaining rooted in the principles of sustainability, equity and inclusive economic opportunity, according to its website. It occupies 178 acres along the Monongahela River in Hazelwood, and Pitt says he’s committed to ensuring that much of the economic benefit from BioForge stays in the Mon Valley.
Pitt and the foundation will work with members of the Hazelwood community to ensure the project has a positive impact on the neighborhood and the people who live there.
âHazelwood Green is the perfect place to do this job. Coupled with our $ 75 million donation to Carnegie Mellon University for robotics and advanced manufacturing at Hazelwood Greenâ¦ this is one of the last pieces of the puzzle in our efforts to make Hazelwood Green truly different from other developments. residents, âadded Reiman. âThis project will help bring our vision for Hazelwood Green to life: a magnet for sustainable growth and a driver of prosperity for our partner communities. “
Most of the site is owned by Almono LP, which is made up of the Richard King Mellon Foundation, the Heinz Endowments and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, according to Public source.
Other goals in the area include updating the historic Mill 19, which was built around 1943 to house ammunition production during World War II. After the war it became a rolling mill, producing steel. But today, in its original skeleton, it’s occupied by several tenants – Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM), CMU’s Manufacturing Futures Initiative, and Catalyst Connections – all focused on AI, automation, robotics or other technological initiatives.
The 10-bay Roundhouse, originally built around 1887 by the Monongahela Connecting Railroad, has been occupied by OneValley, whose mission is to support entrepreneurs and foster innovation around the world.
The development also includes The Plaza, a 2-acre public space billed as the âcivic heartâ of the site.