UCS opens £21m James Hehir Building in Ipswich

The James Hehir Building, UCS in Ipswich
Image caption The £21m building in Ipswich will officially open in March 2011

University Campus Suffolk (UCS) has opened a new six-storey building on the Ipswich Waterfront.

The £21m James Hehir Building will house specialist science laboratories and a new student union bar.

"We have a sensational building which is very distinctive and which complements the £40m waterfront building which is very close by," said Professor Mike Saks, provost of UCS.

"It will be very attractive to students - everything is state of the art."

New courses using the new facilities will be in place for next year and will include stem cell research in partnership with American firm Geron Corp.

"We're working with them on one particular cell therapy, which is going to address, we hope, osteoarthritis which is a huge problem in the UK and worldwide," said Professor Brendon Noble, head of school of health, science and social care at UCS.

"Osteoarthritis happens to a huge proportion of us and is very debilitating.

"It's a hugely expensive issue worldwide so the company, the health service and the government know we've got to look at ways to cost cut and have new medicines for that."

The first intake of students is already using the facility, which will be officially opened on 30 March.

Professor Saks paid tribute to James Hehir, the late former chief executive of Ipswich Borough Council.

"Jim Hehir had such a fantastic reputation in terms of the regeneration of Ipswich and in terms of being a real human being, we thought in many ways he encapsulated the spirit of University Campus Suffolk and our very high aspirations for the future," he said.

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