Leadership, scientists and supporters of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center dedicated the new William H. Danforth Wing, named in honor of the Founding Chairman whose vision catalyzed the formation of the Center in 1998. The $45 million addition will strengthen and expand priority research areas, provide the capacity and technology to accelerate outcomes and advance the Danforth Center as a collaborative hub that connects regional, national and international partners. The Center’s mission is to improve the human condition through plant science.
“Completion of the new wing is a major step in our long range plans to increase our impact through plant science,” said James Carrington, Ph.D., president of the Danforth Center. “The new space will increase our capacity for research in crop improvement, sustainable agriculture and plant biology. The new facilities will also help attract the best scientific teams as we grow in the years ahead.”
The 79,000 sq. ft. William H. Danforth Wing includes four levels, three of which contain flexible labs, gathering spaces, open office suites and computational facilities for up to 100 scientists. The expansion features new technology facilities including an advanced plant growth facility with 34 controlled environment chambers, the Bellwether Plant Phenotyping Facility, biocomputing suite, a Maker Shop for new instrument development and a 95-seat theater with state-of-the-art audio, video, and teleconferencing capabilities for seminars, community programs and training.
Hiring to add principal investigators and scientific teams will occur over the next few years. In early 2016, the first three principal investigators, Blake Meyers, Ph.D., Malia Gehan, Ph.D., and Ru Zhang, Ph.D., arrived at the Danforth Center, bringing significant expertise in plant genomics, phenomics, and crop productivity and sustainability in changing environments. Once fully established, principal investigators’ teams consist of approximately 10 researchers on average to support their research.
“The new wing at the Danforth Plant Science Center is a fitting tribute to a man who has worked tirelessly to strengthen the St. Louis community and help millions of people live longer, healthier lives. Thanks to Dr. Danforth, and the dedicated staff and researchers at the Danforth Center, Missouri will continue serving as a hub for bioscience innovation and an international leader in meeting world food demand,” said U.S. Senator Roy Blunt.
The overall expansion project includes a significant redesign of the Danforth Center’s landscape through reconstruction of a native Missouri tall grass prairie. The six-acre prairie will showcase the vital connections between native landscapes, biodiversity and agriculture, and provide an enhanced ecosystem for beehives located on campus. Renovation of the Kemper Water Garden showcases aquatic grasses and a boardwalk.
The expansion is funded entirely through private donations and $4.5 million in Contribution Tax Credits from the State of Missouri.
“Missouri is fortunate to have outstanding community leader like Dr. Danforth, whose vision, dedication and leadership have made this world-class facility possible,” Governor Nixon said. “The State of Missouri is proud to be a partner in this effort to strengthen our position as a leader in bioscience research, innovation and job creation.”
The public is invited to an Open House to explore the William H. Danforth Wing on Saturday, April 16, beginning at 1:00 pm. Attendees can hear from Center leadership, scientists and architects about how the new facilities will accelerate progress and increase impact. Please visit www.danforthcenter.org/openhouse to register for the event.