University of Pennsylvania commits $750M to STEM research, hiring and new facilities

NOV 19, 2021

The University of Pennsylvania will dedicate $750 million over the next five years to support medical and scientific research, with plans to add dozens of faculty members and launch several new capital projects on campus.

Penn is concentrating the funding in novel therapeutics and health-related initiatives, energy and sustainability, data engineering and science, and infrastructure projects. The investment announcement comes just a month after the university said it blew past its $4.1 billion goal for the Power of Penn fundraising campaign, raising a total of $5.4 billion in three and a half years.

“These game-changing investments allow Penn to move forward rapidly on longstanding priorities in key medical and scientific areas,” Penn President Amy Gutmann said in a statement.

The greatest changes will come to Penn’s physical sciences facilities.

The university will construct a Physical Sciences Building located between the David Rittenhouse Lab and the new Vagelos Laboratory for Energy Science and Technology, which is currently under construction at 32nd and Walnut streets and expected to be completed in fall 2024. The cost of the new Physical Sciences Building is unclear. It will provide research space for Penn Engineering faculty and teaching laboratories to support undergraduate research.

The David Rittenhouse Laboratory, built in 1954 with an addition completed in 1967, will also undergo a “wholesale revisioning,” according to the university.

The Perelman School of Medicine will make “major new investments” with plans to add about 400,000 square feet of research space over the next 10 years to accommodate current and planned research projects. Perelman will focus its research on mRNA biology, vaccine development, immune health, cellular engineering, and gene therapy.

“These new initiatives will continue to support faculty recruitment and retention and position Penn to be a world leader in some of the most critically important and impactful scientific fields for years to come,” Guttman said.

The university plans to hire a total of 60 faculty members to support research in energy and sustainability and data engineering and applied science. Ten faculty will be hired in each of the following target areas:

  • Diversifying energy sources and storage;
  • Energy efficiency and sustainability;
  • Monitoring, sequestering and transforming climate-changing pollutants;
  • Scientific discovery and experimentation in data engineering and science;
  • Design and engineering of autonomous systems;
  • Methodologies to understand the human brain.
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