by Kelsey Volkmann
St. Louis Community College plans to move its Center for Plant and Life Sciences into the first of three buildings at the Bio-Research and Development Growth Park (BRDG) at the Danforth Plant Science Center in Creve Coeur.
The college will move the center from temporary offices on its Florissant Valley campus to 10,500 square feet of space at the $36 million Bridge Park Building 1 this September.
The 15-year lease will cost about $300,000 a year and allow the college to teach upper-level courses in an expanded facility, said Richard Norris, director of the Center for Plant and Life Sciences.
“We’ve been working on this for five years so it’s nice to see it all come together,” Norris said. “We have pretty much outgrown our area.”
The center, which will be in a more centralized location among the college’s four campuses, will use adjunct faculty from Danforth, Monsanto Co. and other companies.
Students also will have the opportunity to intern with the college’s contract research organization and be involved with hands-on research. The college is seeking someone to oversee that organization, which will perform research for companies, Norris said. The contract research organization was funded with a $700,000 National Science Foundation grant.
Students’ interest in the college’s biotech program, which will remain headquartered on the Florissant Valley campus, has flourished. The number of declared majors has jumped 90 percent in the last four years to total more than 70 students this semester, Norris said.
The proposed space for STLCC will consist of labs for tissue culture, molecular biology and bio-manufacturing, as well as a classroom and offices for the center’s staff and faculty.
Sam Fiorello, president of BRDG Park, said he looks forward to a greater collaboration between academia and industry. “Having the college’s biotech work force training program within the BRDG Park facility will allow the college and its industry partners to develop a work force training model that will be the envy of other regions,” he said.
The BRDG Park is being built to provide wet lab space for companies from the incubation to post-incubation stages. In addition to Monsanto, the Nidus Center for Scientific Enterprise also plans to move its incubator there.
Wexford Science+Technology LLC, a privately held real estate developer and investment company based in Hanover, Md., is developing the park.