Already, Mark Nowatka likes what he sees of the new $45 million UF Health building at the corner of Gale Lemerand Drive and Mowry Road.
Nowatka lives in Polk County and has been fighting Hepatitis C since 2010. Neither he nor UF doctors have any idea how he contracted the condition, but he said he’s now very close to getting rid of it for good.
Nowatka was at the Clinical and Translational Research Building Monday afternoon for treatment just before some of UF’s top officials, along with U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, officially opened the building.
“This is nice,” Nowatka said. “The paint still smells new. Great parking. Big doors. Big hallways. There’s no hustle and bustle of the big hospital next door. Just a real nice feeling when you walk in here.”
The building serves as a “bridge,” according to UF President Bernie Machen, between treatment and research. One half of UF’s new building houses the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), the other half is the Institute on Aging.
“(The CTSI) is really equipped to facilitate research in all disease and all age groups,” said Dr. David R. Nelson, the institute’s director and of no relation to the senator.
UF funded the building partly through government stimulus money (a $15 million grant for the Institute on Aging via the National Institutes of Health), and the rest through a $30 million bond. The College of Medicine and College of Public Health and Health Professions are sharing its 20-year repayment.
“As we see the Baby Boomers age,” Sen. Bill Nelson said, “those obvious problems and the challenges that come along with (their aging) are trying to be addressed.”
Nelson said he hopes the research coming from the new building can help solve those health issues, particularly in Florida.