Transforming the Sciences
The Integrative Sciences Initiative (ISI) tackles challenges posed by infectious diseases and cancer, and efforts will continue to elevate NC State’s reputation as an outstanding land-grant R1 university.
The ISI will be led by Joshua Pierce, co-director of NC State’s Comparative Medicine Institute, in collaboration with ISI theme leaders Melanie Simpson and Yevgeny Brudno. Rob Dunn, senior vice provost for University Interdisciplinary Programs, and Duane Larick, senior vice provost and professor emeritus, will provide direction in launching the initiative and strategizing to bring together scholars and students from biochemistry, biological sciences, chemistry, engineering, biomedical sciences and microbiology in one place.
ISI Research Themes
To address opportunities for scientific advancement, three initial research thematic areas have been identified to collaboratively study, synthesize, and screen molecules and molecular pathways in the context of human and animal disease. These themes are:
- Molecular mechanisms of metabolism and disease
- Led by Melanie Simpson, professor and head of the Department of Molecular and Structural Biochemistry
- Molecular synthesis and characterization
- Led by Josh Pierce, co-director of NC State’s Comparative Medicine Institute
- Molecular therapeutics and drug discovery
- Led by Yevgeny Brudno, assistant professor in the joint NC State and UNC Chapel Hill Department of Biomedical Engineering
Interdisciplinary research and teaching across these themes will embrace cutting edge technologies in shared spaces and core facilities provided by the ISI. Synergy within and across themes will infuse the training and research environment for undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff, in a manner that is unprecedented at NC State.
Inquiry-based Education and Workforce Development
A fourth theme focuses on inquiry-based education and workforce development; students will learn broad concepts and industry-relevant techniques while participating in curiosity-driven, discovery-based science. Theme leaders are:
- Jeremiah Feducia, teaching associate professor in the Department of Chemistry
- Carlos Goller, associate teaching professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and the Biotechnology (BIT) program
- Trino Ascencio-Ibanez, teaching associate professor in the Department of Molecular and Structural Biochemistry
- Jane Lubischer, associate department head in the Department of Biological Sciences.
These leaders are working to ensure that NC State students graduate having already had extensive experience in research that involves a mix of cutting-edge techniques and collaborative research projects that span disciplines all in the context of the real-world challenges.
ISI leaders will seek to engage the campus community through a survey and listening sessions to gather input on the biggest technological challenges and barriers to next-generation molecular science research and teaching. The survey will also seek feedback on various challenges and opportunities for the Integrative Sciences Initiative and Building as they gain momentum and make progress toward NC State’s strategic goals.
Integrative Sciences Building
Heart of Campus
The ISB will be located on the former Harrelson Hall site adjacent to the Brickyard.
The building will include a mix of teaching, research, collaboration, amenity and support space.
$160 Million Investment
$80 million of the project cost will be provided by the state and $80 million will be funded by the university.
The Need for a New Kind of Space
The new $160 million Integrative Sciences Building (ISB) — the heart of the ISI — will be built in the location of the former Harrelson Hall. The new facility will provide much-needed STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) teaching and research space on north campus, and serve as a catalyst for transforming the sciences at NC State. It will be an inspiring, flexible model for academic and research creativity that is focused on collaboration, discovery and transfer of knowledge.
NC State has outgrown our existing spaces for lab-based science programs, such as chemistry, biochemistry and biological sciences, which are critical on a campus where more than half of our graduates major in STEM fields. In order to maintain our presence as one of the most elite STEM universities in the nation and to continue attracting the best and brightest faculty and students, we must have top-notch basic and applied molecular science programs and facilities.
The Integrative Sciences Building will create a community of interdisciplinary scholars focused on tackling societal grand challenges in human and non-human animal health and the environment. Research and teaching will embrace cutting edge technologies in shared spaces and core facilities. Synergy within and across disciplines will infuse the training and research environment for undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff, in a manner that is unprecedented at NC State.
Disciplines represented in the Integrated Sciences Building will be STEM focused. Education and training programs will focus on team science, inquiry-driven coursework across disciplines, communication and leadership, diversity and preparing for the jobs of tomorrow.
Joshua Pierce Named Director of Integrative Sciences Initiative
Joshua Pierce has been named director of NC State’s Integrative Sciences Initiative (ISI), effective February 1, 2022. He will report directly to Rob Dunn, interim senior vice provost for University Interdisciplinary Programs, who, along with Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Warwick Arden, made the announcement.
Engaging in Integrative Sciences
NC State seeks to raise the bar for interdisciplinarity in higher education, both through its new Office of University Interdisciplinary Programs and the Integrative Sciences Initiative and Building. The Integrative Sciences Initiative and Building will change the way NC State does science by facilitating new synergies in research, education and application.
ISB Project Milestones
In January 2021, NC State University engaged Moseley Architects and ZGF Architects along with a team of consultants to complete advanced planning for the Integrative Sciences Building, which was wrapped up in August 2021. Tentative milestones for the project moving forward include:
- Design development by June 2022;
- Construction documents by December 2022;
- Construction begins in summer 2023 and
- Construction completed in spring 2026.