Governor Kathleen Blanco has agreed to secure $4.5 million dollars for the University of Louisiana at Monroe College of Pharmacy renovation process, fulfilling the pledge of support she made during her tour of the facility last August.
"We are deeply gratified that Gov. Blanco remains committed to educating and training the people of Louisiana," said ULM President James Cofer. "Such visionary support will ensure the College of Pharmacy's continued growth and success."
Senate President Don Hines, D-Bunkie, sponsored the amendment that will now direct surplus dollars toward the pharmacy building's construction.
In response to Hines' proposed legislation, Cofer said: "We are so pleased that our legislature recognizes the importance of ULM's College of Pharmacy in the state's economic development efforts. ULM's College of Pharmacy researchers are approaching the cutting edge in development in the fields of diabetes, breast and prostate cancer. These funds represent a giant leap in ULM's research initiatives as we continue to fight these deadly diseases."
The first 1.5 million dollars of funding will be used to complete Phase II renovations to the College of Pharmacy building on 1800 Bienville Drive, formerly known as State Farm Claims Office. Once Phase II is completed, the ULM Louisiana Medicaid Unit, pharmacy research laboratories and research incubator space will be housed in the new building.
Pharmacy Dean Lamar Pritchard is optimistic about the advancement opportunities the new construction will bring. "The new ULM College of Pharmacy facility will allow for more pragmatic and patient-oriented pharmaceutical care training, provide the latest specialized teaching and research facilities, and support cross-disciplinary research and teaching activities."
The additional 3 million dollars will make way for Phase III renovations which will include the new Animal Research Facility, also called a Vivarium. The new Vivarium will be certified by the Association for Accreditation and Assessment of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC). The Vivarium will facilitate novel research initiatives that address cutting-edge questions and issues in the areas of pharmaceutical, neuroscience, cardiovascular, and cancer research.
"An AAALAC certified Animal Research Facility is considered an essential component of the infrastructure of any pharmaceutical research institution. At present, there is no such vivarium available in the Northeast region of Louisiana," Pritchard said.
This development will enable ULM COP researchers to be eligible to receive National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, American Heart Association, and other research grants that require that the institution have an AAALAC certified facility.
"Our new research facilities will also permit established investigators at the College of Pharmacy to move into more novel niches in their respective fields."
Such activities are expected to advance academic and economic development prerogatives of the University, region, and the State and ensure that ULM is able to advance to the cutting edge of pharmaceutical research.
"The state of Louisiana is poised to expand its employment base as a more adequate supply of health care services, including well trained physicians and pharmacists, become available. Currently, Louisiana has one of the highest demands for professional pharmacists in the United States. The new College of Pharmacy expanded facilities, which includes two satellite campuses, will make it possible for ULM to increase the supply of well-trained pharmacy professionals for our state," Pritchard concluded.