ST. PETERSBURG — All Children's Hospital Johns Hopkins Medicine is moving forward with plans to transform a parking lot into an $85 million research and education building.
Jonathan Ellen, the hospital's CEO, said the 225,000-square-foot building will house a 250-seat auditorium, as well as state-of-the-art labs and simulation space.
"Some people have asked me what's going to happen (in the new building)," he said. "There's going to be science experiments like you've seen on TV with lots of tubes going all over the place."
"We hope we will find cures for children around the country and around the world," he said.
The building site, across the street from the hospital and just west of the University of South Florida's research building at 601 Fourth St. S, was owned by the state until 2014. That January, Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet gave the property to USF, which then transferred it to All Children's.
The university received a $2.5 million allocation in the state budget for making the trade.
Hospital leaders held a ceremonial groundbreaking for the project last week. They plan to begin construction early next year, and the building is expected to open in 2018.
The new facility will create 30 jobs for highly skilled researchers and educators, officials say.
What's more, it will let All Children's expand its research on heart disease, neuroscience, cancer and blood disorders, and neonatology, while doing more interdisciplinary work, director of research Neil Goldenberg said.
"This really gives us the opportunity to recruit people from around the world," Goldenberg said.
Dr. Raquel Hernandez, who oversees the hospital's medical education programs, said the new building will be an asset for the resident trainees, too.
"Imagine being a resident, having a great lecture, and then turning the corner and running into one of our great researchers working in the bio repository or one of our great faculty (members) who is now reviewing data on a trial they are doing," she said.
Hernandez said she is particularly excited an entire floor will be dedicated to simulation — a feature that will let residents practice skills such as team building and how to deliver bad news.
She said the building also will serve a broader purpose.
"We know that Florida has a projected shortage of about 7,000 physicians over the next 10 years," Hernandez said. "If we are able to train and keep those fantastic students and residents, we know All Children's will be a leader for that next generation of care that's needed."
Contact Kathleen McGrory at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8330. Follow @kmcgrory.