Maryland Senators Barbara Mikulski and Benjamin Cardin on June 2, 2008 visited NIH's newest research facility, the Biomedical Research Center (BRC) in Baltimore, to support and promote scientific research. Led by NIH Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni, with NIA Director Dr. Richard Hodes and NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow, the senators entered the architecturally dramatic atrium and spent the morning discussing the facility and the scientific research taking place in the new venue. The session featured a briefing by Dr. Mark Mattson of NIA on studies in Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases and by Dr. Elliot Stein of NIDA on imaging of brain changes due to drug abuse and on aging programs being conducted by Johns Hopkins Bayview researchers and clinicians on the surrounding Bayview campus.
The approximately 500,000 square foot, two-tower structure is a leased facility on the Johns Hopkins Bayview campus, where NIA and NIDA have long conducted intramural research in other facilities. The new building allows expansion and updating of key research labs and houses laboratory, vivarium, and administrative activities. Dr. Zerhouni noted that challenges in constructing the structure for state-of-the-art experiments have been met, and the ability of nearly 1,000 scientists to work in the new facility "will be second to none."
The senators' visit was a celebration of the BRC, and, more broadly, the NIH scientific enterprise. In remarks to scientists, administrators, and media, Mikulski and Cardin praised the work of NIH researchers and the significance of studies to address the needs of an aging population and the issues of drug abuse. "We've got to do things differently," Cardin noted, in meeting these challenges in the future, and the work being done at BRC will play a critical role. Mikulski, who was active in the development of the site, praised the facility. However, she stated, "It's not about the building. Our job is to save lives," highlighting NIH's importance in helping Americans to live longer, better and healthier lives. “We're going to win Nobel Prizes here," she said.