UAMS Celebrates Topping Out of Institute on Aging Expansion

By David Robinson

Built atop the existing Reynolds Institute on Aging building, the 55,000-square-foot expansion is scheduled for completion in early 2012. It will give the institute eight floors and greatly expand its capacity for education and research programs. The grant includes $2.5 million for a raised pedestrian walkway to connect the Institute on Aging with the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute one block away.

“The placement of this beam today commemorates a milestone for this construction project,” said UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D. “It also symbolizes the new heights that this institute will attain in advancing geriatric treatments and care.”

The Reynolds Institute on Aging is the only free-standing building in the United States dedicated to geriatric education, research and clinical care.

Jeanne Wei, M.D., Ph.D., executive director of the Reynolds Institute on Aging, said the expansion will enhance multidisciplinary research with participation from scientists across the UAMS campus.

Each floor will have its own focus, with interdisciplinary research on the fifth floor; cardiovascular aging research and basic science on the sixth floor; translational research (integrating research into clinical trials) on the seventh floor; and the Arkansas Aging Initiative, community outreach and administrative offices on the eighth floor.

“We couldn’t be more excited as we approach the final construction phase,” Wei said. “The reality is, the people of Arkansas are aging, and we are poised to help them by educating more geriatricians and finding real solutions to health problems that are unique to our older population.”

The construction project is funded by part of a $33.4 million Donald W. Reynolds Foundation gift that was announced in June 2009. The gift included $3 million to the Arkansas Aging Initiative, a program of the Institute on Aging that oversees eight Centers on Aging across Arkansas.

Under terms of the gift, the Institute on Aging must raise $5.6 million to support programs in the new space before it can move in. In February, Jane and Frank Lyon Jr. contributed $1.5 million, giving the institute $3.5 million in private donations.

“This project would not be possible without the Reynolds Foundation and the many Arkansans who have given so generously,” Wei said. “In the years to come, we will show them and all of Arkansas that their money was a great investment for their state.”

Also attending the event were Alan Schlossberg, the chief architect from Perkins Eastman of Pittsburgh, the same architect responsible for designing the first four floors of the institute more than a decade ago; representatives of Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects of Little Rock, who worked with Eastman; Nabholz Construction, the general contractor; members of the institute’s advisory board, and donors.

UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Related Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a 540,000-square-foot hospital; a statewide network of regional centers; and six institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute and the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging. It is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 2,836 students and 761 medical residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including nearly 1,150 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. Visit or