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Berkeley Lab Breaks Ground on Integrative Genomics Building

New facility will bring genomics and systems biology together under one roof

by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
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Extending the roots of team science at its birthplace, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) will soon bring together researchers from the Department of Energy (DOE) Joint Genome Institute with those from the Systems Biology Knowledgebase (KBase) under one roof. The groundbreaking for the Integrative Genomics Building (IGB) on January 31, 2017, at the former site of a storied particle accelerator, celebrates the future colocation of two partnering scientific user community resources and launches construction of the first building in the long-term vision for a consolidated biosciences presence on Berkeley Lab’s main site.

Rendering of the Integrative Genomics BuildingRendering of the Integrative Genomics Building.Image courtesy of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory“The IGB is key to realizing the enormous promise of 21st century biosciences at Berkeley Lab,” said Berkeley Lab director Michael Witherell. “The new building will enable discoveries in microbial and plant interactions that are the foundations of ecosystems and open new avenues to enhance the sustainable production of biofuels and renewable chemicals. In addition, the information generated at the IGB will inform more accurate predictions about fluctuations of carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, and phosphorous levels that drive critical terrestrial and atmospheric processes.”

The Berkeley Lab Biosciences Area, with $176 million in annual funding, comprises approximately 800 people—including those from the DOE JGI and KBase—and represents the largest number of scientists in one organization dedicated to discovery, understanding, and engineering biology for solutions for energy, environment, and health challenges. Currently, Biosciences is located in four leased offsite locations, from KBase in Emeryville, Calif., to the DOE JGI, 20 miles away in Walnut Creek, Calif. When completed in 2019, the IGB will unite the DOE JGI and KBase, two critical resources supported by the DOE Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER) for catalyzing solutions to energy and environmental challenges. Combined, the DOE JGI and KBase have nearly 3,400 users of their DNA sequencing, synthesis, metabolomics, and large-scale bioinformatics resources.

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“The IGB will drive new research synergies and operational efficiencies with JGI and KBase housed together nearby Berkeley Lab’s other major resources,” said biosciences associate laboratory director Jay Keasling. “Our IGB team will also have easier access to UC Berkeley, where we already have dozens of research collaborations and where there will be many new opportunities for undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral mentoring. In addition to working with federal and state agencies, we look forward to exploring mission-related industrial and charitable partnerships that could help us harness the momentum of the IGB as the first step towards consolidating Bioscience at Berkeley Lab.”

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The estimated cost of the IGB project is $91.5 million and is supported through the Science Laboratories Infrastructure (SLI) program. SLI’s mission includes supporting scientific and technological innovation at the DOE Office of Science laboratories by funding and sustaining national laboratory infrastructure and fostering safe and environmentally responsible operations. Through this program, the DOE ensures that its laboratories have state-of-the-art facilities and utilities that are flexible, reliable, and sustainable, with environmentally stable research space and high performance computing space needed to support scientific discovery.

When completed, the IGB will house about 300 scientists and support staff in a four-story building with approximately 77,000 gross square feet and an anticipated LEED Gold rating. The new building is designed to use just 35 percent of the energy used by DOE JGI at its current facility. The architectural firm on the project is the SmithGroupJJR; the contract management is being performed by Rudolph & Sletten.

At the IGB groundbreakingAt the IGB groundbreaking (Lt to Rt): Berkeley Lab Director Michael Witherell, DOE’s Sharlene Weatherwax, JGI’s Nigel Mouncey, KBase’s Adam Arkin, UC’s Kim Budil, and Berkeley Lab’s Jay Keasling.Photo courtesy of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory The IGB design includes a solar photovoltaic array, financed and installed separately to offset over ten percent of the building’s energy use, and will use electric heat pumps and recovery instead of natural gas to provide heat. This will allow the greenhouse gas footprint of the building to shrink over time. The new facility will also be the first at Berkeley Lab with all-LED lighting.

Berkeley Lab specializes in integrative science and technology, providing open access to world-class expertise in biology, environmental science, materials, chemistry, physics, and computing to advance collaborative high-impact research and innovation. The laboratory is also host to five DOE Office of Science User Facilities, including DOE JGI, the Advanced Light Source (ALS), the Molecular Foundry, the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), and the Energy Sciences Network (ESnet). Among the many benefits of co-locating DOE JGI and KBase will be to bring all of Berkeley Lab’s major user facilities within walking distance of one another. See here to learn how three of these national user facilities—DOE JGI, NERSC, and ESnet—work together to engage collaborators from a diverse set of disciplines to generate, analyze, and disseminate complex data sets, the likes of which are all in a day’s work for DOE JGI and KBase. Additionally, through IGB, Berkeley Lab will tap into and complement other bioscience resources in the region, such as the University of California campuses in Berkeley, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Davis, as well as other intellectual assets in the surrounding area.

The DOE JGI, established in 1997 to unite the distributed DNA sequencing and analysis capabilities of the DOE to accelerate the completion of the Human Genome Project, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. After completing its Human Genome Project activities in 2003, the DOE JGI became the only federally-funded, high-throughput genome sequencing and analysis facility focused solely on the genomes of non-medical microbes, microbial communities, plants, and fungi relevant to DOE missions in energy and the environment.

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Founded in 2011 and celebrating its five-year anniversary this year, KBase is a collaborative, open environment for systems biology of plants, microbes, and their communities. KBase enables the scientific community to access and share sophisticated integrative data analysis and modeling tools supported by DOE enterprise class computing that will accelerate discovery, prediction, and design of biological functions. Together, the JGI and KBase provide unprecedented power for measurement, analysis and understanding of biological systems.

The IGB Groundbreaking Ceremony included Michael Witherell, Berkeley Lab Director; Sharlene Weatherwax, associate director of science for biological and environmental research, DOE Office of Science; Mayor Jesse Arreguin, Berkeley; Kimberly Budil, vice president for National Laboratories, University of California Office of the President; Jay Keasling, associate laboratory director biosciences, Berkeley Lab; and Adam Arkin, principal investigator, DOE Systems Biology Knowledgebase (KBase). The DOE JGI recently named its new director, Nigel Mouncey, who also participated in the ceremony.