The School of Biomedical Engineering (SBME), a partnership between the Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Applied Science, is a new flagship entity at UBC and a top strategic priority for the University and both Faculties. The vision of the School is to transform patient health and healthcare outcomes through unconstrained exploration of the best possible integrative solutions across engineering, medicine, and biology.
The SBME faculty will conduct research that advances our fundamental understanding of human biology and that yields technologies and therapies that advance health and wellbeing. Students will learn to apply quantitative analyses and engineering design principles across biological scales and to develop innovative solutions that impact clinical practice and lead to innovation in the life sciences. The SBME, as the first comprehensive inter-faculty School of Biomedical Engineering in Canada, will play a central role in British Columbia’s and Canada’s leadership in biomedical entrepreneurship. Significant investments have been made in creating the SBME and many activities have started to ramp up, including hiring new faculty and staff, launching new academic programs and building new partnerships – these efforts are already testing current space limitations. In pursuing the SBME’s ambitious goals as outlined in its recently launched Strategic Plan, the School is proving its potential as a central hub for human health research, training and entrepreneurship on campus. To continue this rapid expansion and properly meet the demand and promise of the School, a dedicated building for research, education and innovation is absolutely necessary. The Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) has undergone recent renovations to accommodate near term faculty and staff hiring for the SBME, but it will reach capacity by July 2020 and is insufficient for delivering the SBME program and accommodating student needs. The SBME’s faculty hiring and provincial commitments for domestic undergraduate student enrolment make the case for a single, central space that fulfills the needs of the SBME hub-and-spoke model, brings key stakeholders together in closer proximity, and serves the substantive activities at our hospital partner sites. It will provide a nexus for infrastructure and equipment consolidation, and the coordinated delivery of education, research and innovation (clinical development and commercialization) programs.
The proposed School of Biomedical Engineering building will support the expansion of the undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as research activities. The functional program includes classrooms, teaching laboratories, research laboratories, office space, meeting space and informal learning/student community space. The 14,056.8 GSM (151,305 GSF) facility is proposed to be located at the D.H. Copp Building site on University Boulevard.
The SBME building will include innovative learning spaces, laboratories for transformative research, facilities for research support, and office space for new faculty, including 19 hired through the President’s Academic Excellence Initiative (PAEI). The project will also include an additional 250 seat lecture theatre serving the campus need for general teaching space of this size.The Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) provides the SBME’s interim physical location, serving as an administrative home and providing space for 8 faculty – 4 existing plus 4 newly recruited. Self-funded renovations to the Biomedical Research Centre have been undertaken to improve its condition and space utilization necessary for the immediate new hires. However, the BRC has already outgrown the School’s faculty and research requirement. This facility also has no classrooms and is not able to accommodate current graduate student enrolment; nor the startup of the undergraduate program. At 4,530 gross square metres (48,760 gross square feet) the BRC currently houses the School’s administrative team, some core research facilities and a small venture incubation hub.