UPMC-backed Research Center in Italy Progresses with Construction Contract Notice

By: Simona Abbro and Wendy Zellner

Significant step taken in creation of new research center funded by Italian government and managed in partnership with UPMC and University of Pittsburgh.The contract notice for awarding the construction work on the Ri.MED Foundation’s Biomedical Research and Biotechnology Center (BRBC) near Palermo, Italy, was recently published in the Official Journal of the European Union. This marks a significant step forward for the €210 million project, which is funded by the Italian government and managed in partnership with UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh.

The total amount of the construction contract for the 25,000 square-meter-facility, which will host up to 600 employees, is €113,857,714.73 ($122.4 million), and includes laboratories, administrative offices, a lecture hall, outpatient clinics and guest rooms. Interested bidders have a deadline of two months to submit tenders.

The BRBC is expected to be a driving force for innovation in Sicily and is a key part of the region’s plan to become a translational “hub” for the life sciences, in coordination with the ISMETT transplant hospital, managed by UPMC.

The Ri.MED Foundation was established in 2006 by a decree of the Italian government, replicating the successful public-private management model that formed ISMETT more than 20 years ago to provide high-specialty care to Sicilian patients and hundreds of jobs for young medical professionals. Ri.MED’s founding partners include the Italian Presidency of the Council of Ministers, UPMC, the University of Pittsburgh, the Italian National Research Center (CNR) and the Region of Sicily. Since the foundation’s establishment, dozens of young Italian researchers have been trained in Pittsburgh and in other top national and international research centers to become the leaders of the BRBC’s research programs.

“[The publication of the contract notice is] a fundamental step forward in the work carried out by UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh in the last 10 years with the Italian and Sicilian governments and with the CNR,” said Dr. Bruno Gridelli, executive vice-president of UPMC International and vice president of Ri.MED. “With the BRBC and with its advanced research programs, we intend to generate new treatment products with clinical and commercial value. This will create new biotechnological businesses that will have a positive impact on the economy and social development of Sicily and Italy.”

“The opening of the BRBC is a unique opportunity for Sicily and Italy. We look forward with great pride to the challenge of leading the Ri.MED Foundation toward this goal,” added Alessandro Padova, director general of Ri.MED. “This is an innovative center focused on understanding the mechanisms of diseases that today still have no cure, and developing new diagnostic methods, medical devices and personalized treatments to improve the patients’ quality of life, integrating research and drug development, regenerative medicine and bioengineering. Today, becoming a key player in the development of biomedical clusters in the Mediterranean area has become a feasible goal for Sicily.”

The BRBC final project was designed by an association of enterprises led by Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum Inc. and approved by the Regional Commission for Public Works.