Crowd celebrates opening of health sciences building

SPOKANE, Wash. – Medical student Scott Hippe says one of his favorite things about the $80 million Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences Building is the windows. Huge panes of glass cover most of the structure and offer splendid views of the Washington State University Spokane campus and beyond.

“I spent the majority of my first year of medical school in a basement classroom without windows. After hearing about the windows, I grinned from ear-to-ear for a week straight. Maybe this pale kid can get a tan while he studies,” Hippe joked in his speech at the building’s recent dedication ceremony.

Spokane-Medical-Bldg-Dedication-seatingWSU President Elson S. Floyd, WSU Spokane Chancellor Lisa Brown and several elected officials also spoke to a standing-room-only crowd of more than 400 packed into the new building’s first-floor breezeway. Then they pulled out a large pair of crimson scissors for a ceremonial ribbon cutting.

Floyd talked about the role of the building in helping to elevate health care’s already strong role in the economy of the Inland Northwest. Brown spoke about the campus’s emphasis on interprofessional learning and teaching health sciences students how to work in teams – one of the major trends in health care.

Pharmaceutical sciences graduate student Emily Cox said the new building will simplify things for student researchers. They often have had to walk from building to building to find the equipment and advice they needed to continue their experiments.

“This building is a real, proactive solution to research barriers on campus,” she said.

WSU Spokane is the university’s health sciences campus. The 125,000-square foot building is home to the College of Pharmacy, which for 11 years has been split between Pullman and Spokane. Pharmacy faculty will occupy two-thirds of the research space. Students will attend some classes in the building and practice clinical skills on manikins in a new simulation suite.

The rest of the lab space will be occupied by medical sciences, which includes the University of Washington’s WWAMI medical education program, medical research and WSU’s speech and hearing sciences program. Medical students will not only attend classes in the new building; they’ll also study anatomy by examining cadavers in four specially-equipped labs.

Faculty and staff have begun moving into the building, and pharmacy will complete its exodus from Pullman this month. Spring semester classes will begin in the building in January.