University of California starts construction on health sciences complex

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The University of California, Irvine will begin construction this month on a landmark 9-acre health sciences complex that promises to be a national showcase for integrative health patient care, training and research.

The site – on the corner of Bison and California avenues adjacent to the UCI Research Park – will include a state-of-the-art, five-story-level, 108,200-square-foot building for the Susan and Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences and an adjoining four-story-level, 71,500-square-foot building for the Sue and Bill Gross School of Nursing.

The $185 million project also encompasses a 150-seat auditorium, a central courtyard that connects with the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute, landscape design elements that support activities such as yoga and tai chi, a Zen garden, and a 600-foot-long wellness walk that leads to the School of Medicine’s Biomedical Research Center.

In addition, the health sciences building will house the Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute, and the project includes a pad for a proposed School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences building.

“UCI is creating a national model for integrative health teaching, research and delivery,” said Chancellor Howard Gillman. “These two new buildings, part of our expanded health sciences campus, will ensure that our dedicated researchers and clinicians set a standard that, over time, other medical centers in the U.S. can follow.”

The Susan and Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences consists of the School of Medicine, the Sue and Bill Gross School of Nursing, the Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute, the proposed School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences (currently the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences) and the proposed School of Population Health (currently the Program in Public Health). It is the first university-based health sciences enterprise to incorporate integrative health research, teaching and patient care across its schools and programs.

The definition of integrative health and medicine is whole-person, patient-centered care that considers the factors that influence health, wellness and disease, including mind, body and spirit. It redefines the relationship between the practitioner and the patient by focusing on the whole person and the whole community.

It is informed by scientific evidence and makes use of all appropriate preventatives, therapeutic and lifestyle approaches, and healthcare professionals and disciplines to promote optimal health and wellness.

“Optimal health and healing come from taking an integrative approach to healthcare that is patient-centered, science-based, trans-disciplinary and team-delivered,” said Dr. Steve Goldstein, UCI vice chancellor for health affairs.

“Moving from the status quo to improved care for our population requires an expanded focus to promote health and well-being and more effectively deliver healthcare using all evidence-based approaches across the lifespan. This health sciences complex will be at the epicenter of the transformation of the current healthcare system, as well as a site for research and the training of the next generation of healthcare professionals.”

Design elements for the health sciences and nursing complex will combine classrooms, research labs and meeting spaces into collective environments that will foster innovation and discovery. Strategically placed classrooms, collaboration areas, team rooms and break areas will draw different constituents toward the center. Two central staircases and three elevators will facilitate chance encounters among researchers, faculty, clinicians and administrators.

Within the nursing school, for instance, a lounge will open to a quiet outdoor space in which students can relax and collaborate. This lounge will be easily accessible from the teaching labs where they spend much of their day. Indoor and outdoor shaded study areas will enable individual and group activities and study.

The Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute will have its own dedicated approach, entry and design, providing a distinctive experience and building a sense of community among patients and clinicians.

Major gifts from Susan and Henry Samueli and Sue and Bill Gross support the development of this project. In 2016, the William and Sue Gross Family Foundation committed $40 million to UCI to establish a nursing school and assist in the construction of a new building to house it. The following year, the Samuelis donated $200 million to build a first-of-its-kind college of health sciences focused on interdisciplinary integrative health.

The far-reaching gift – one of the largest ever to a single public university – positions UCI as a bold new leader in population health, patient care, and health-related education and research.

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