John and Mary Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building houses research from diabetes to heart and lung diseases
Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The University of Iowa ushered in a new age of accelerated research in biomedicine with the formal opening on Wednesday, Oct. 15, of the $126 million John and Mary Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building (PBDB).

Exterior of Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building
Photo courtesy the UI Foundation.

The 256,000-square-foot building on the UI health sciences campus will house “high-risk, high-reward” research in diabetes, deafness, and brain science as well as complex diseases affecting the heart and lungs.

At a dedication ceremony, UI administrative leaders, donors, members of the state Board of Regents, state lawmakers, and researchers said the building will unite scientists who want to improve understanding of the fundamentals of biology and disease and to make discoveries that improve human health. These advances promise to create jobs and businesses in the state, while putting the UI at the forefront nationally of biomedical research.

Get an insider’s view of the building in this video

"The Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building is a significant milestone in the University of Iowa's continuing advancement in medical research," UI President Sally Mason says. "The innovative interdisciplinary character of this facility and the groundbreaking work happening within it will lead to cutting-edge health care for Iowans and beyond as well as exciting economic development opportunities for our state. The programs and institutes housed in the PBDB are already hard at work making life better for our state and larger society through the latest in biomedical discovery."

Mason thanked Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and the Iowa General Assembly for supporting the building. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds toured the site last May.

John and Mary Pappajohn
Mary and John Pappajohn. Photo by Susan McClellen.

The building is named for John Pappajohn, a venture capitalist and philanthropist from Des Moines and his wife, Mary, who committed $26.4 million in 2009 to help establish the Pappajohn Biomedical Institute and to contribute to the building's construction. The other major donor is the state of Iowa.

“We are inspired by the institute's collaborative, interdisciplinary, entrepreneurial, and university-wide dimensions,” says John Pappajohn, who earned his bachelor’s degree in commerce from the UI and was awarded an honorary doctoral degree from the UI in 2010. “Those who stand to gain the most from this world-class research enterprise will be generations of patients nationwide and around the world."

The building hosts six centers and programs, including:

  • The Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center
  • Francois M. Abboud Cardiovascular Research Center
  • Iowa Institute for Biomedical Imaging
  • University of Iowa Neurosciences Institute
  • University of Iowa Auditory Research Program
  • University of Iowa Lung Biology Center


Here are comments from other UI leaders, describing the research, health, and economic value of the $126 million John and Mary Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building, which was formally dedicated in a ceremony on Wednesday.

“This new university building provides an unsurpassed opportunity for interdisciplinary groups of investigators to integrate expertise and skill sets to address, synergistically, questions of fundamental biologic importance.”
Jean Robillard, UI vice president for medical affairs

“The keys to discovery and innovation are world-class talent and cutting edge tools. The Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building provides our world-class researchers with the interdisciplinary research infrastructure and tools that will lead to insights and treatments for some of the world’s most pressing and prevalent healthcare issues, from diabetes and cancer to cardiovascular and neurological diseases.”
Dan Reed, UI vice president for research and economic development

"We are here today because of hope. The hope that this institute inspires. Hope that we will better understand how the body works. For in that knowledge lies the basis of better treatments.Hope for preventions that will keep us healthy. As babies. As we age. Hope that we can pass some of our knowledge and our values to the next generation."
Michael Welsh, director, Pappajohn Biomedical Institute

"I’m very excited to be a part of the Pappajohn Biomedical Research Building primarily because it will bring together creative, energetic scientists and researchers in an environment that will promote interaction and cross-fertilization."
E. Dale Abel, director, Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center