The University at Buffalo ushered in a new era in medical education Tuesday by introducing to the public its hallmark $375 million new medical school building on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
UB officials touted the state-of-the-art Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences as a way to deliver world-class medical education, research and patient care – teaching a new generation of physicians in a facility that rivals other medical schools across the country.
"We're celebrating the grand opening of much more than a new building today," said Dr. Michael E. Cain, the medical school dean. "This is the start of a new era for UB, for our medical school and for this entire region."
An estimated crowd of 1,000 people gathered in the glass atrium for the formal grand opening, including doctors, administrators from other hospitals, government leaders and students.
Teaching, research and clinical work will get under way Jan. 8, when the new semester begins. The medical school will enroll 180 students, its largest-ever class and a 25 percent increase compared with the previous academic year.
"We are more excited than ever that this day has finally arrived," said Laura Reed, a second-year medical student from Horseheads. "I remember hearing about the new building going up, but I don't think the reality of it ever really registered with me. And to be honest, it still really hasn't."
In all, 2,000 faculty, staff and students will be at the building daily. The university also has recruited 100 physicians, scientists and medical specialists to pioneer new treatments.
"With this move complete, Buffalo is now home to a comprehensive academic health center, an academic and health care powerhouse on par with those in Cleveland and Pittsburgh," Cain said.
He called the opening a "truly seminal moment" for the Jacobs School, the university and region.
"Our achievement positions the school at the forefront of academic medicine, research and clinical care. And it secures our legacy as one of our country's oldest, most well-established schools of medicine and biomedical sciences."
Highly-sophisticated simulation centers, robotics and surgical suites and more team-based collaborative learning will be the norm in the new building at 955 Main St., a major gateway to the campus.
"This is an exciting day for UB, for Western New York and certainly my family," said Jeremy M. Jacobs, chairman of Delaware North and the UB Council. "This medical school is the most impressive and state-of-the-art building of its kind in the country and perhaps the world. It will be an extraordinary hub for instruction and life-saving research. It will also be the point of activity for the entire downtown medical corridor."
It also becomes Buffalo's first building to integrate a Metro Rail station. The new building is equivalent in size to 14.6 acres or about 11 football fields. At its center is a seven-story, 650 ribbon-glass paneled atrium.
"The world-class design was a sight to behold," said UB President Satish K. Tripathi. "But to gaze upon the magnificent finished product is to fully appreciate it for the breathtaking building it is."
Tripathi and others lauded the building not only for its aesthetic appeal, but what will go on within its walls. He described it as a 21st century medical school where physicians, clinical researchers and medical educators share knowledge, test cutting-edge ideas and make life-saving discoveries.
"While this beautiful building has redefined Buffalo’s skyline, it is the people teaching, training and conducting research inside who will redefine the future of medicine for our region and beyond," Tripathi said.
"I am so excited about this building," said Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, standing in for the governor. "I really believe that this is going to be a catalyst for change because this puts Buffalo on the map."
The state committed $56 million-plus in state resources for the new building.
As students consider medical school options, they now have a chance in see this one at the core of Buffalo's renaissance, Hochul said.
"They see a community that is on fire. We could not have sold this five years ago," she said. "This area has been transformed. Today marks a new beginning."
Before relocating to the South Campus, the medical school was based on High Street from 1893 to 1953.
The downtown medical school presence solidifies Buffalo as a leader in medical education and research, said Mayor Byron Brown. "It provides another reason for physicians from around the country and around the world to establish practices in Buffalo," he said.