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WARF provides $15 million gift for School of Veterinary Medicine building project

October 10, 2019 By Meghan Lepisto

Mark Markel, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine, talks with visitors at the school in March. Photo: Bryce Richter

A $15 million gift from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation will support the School of Veterinary Medicine Building Project at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

The project will include a new building located in what is now Lot 62, connected to a remodeled current building located on Linden Drive, allowing the school to overcome severe space shortages.

Approval of the expansion project was signed into law in July 2019 in the State of Wisconsin’s 2019-21 budget. The budget calls for the School of Veterinary Medicine to provide $38 million in private gift support toward the project, with the state providing $90 million. With WARF’s $15 million investment, the school has surpassed the $38 million needed to allow the building project to be bid in spring 2021.

Photo: Mark Markel

Mark Markel

“We are thrilled to be able to move forward and break ground on this essential expansion and renovation, which will ensure that the school remains a global leader in training the next generation of veterinarians, serving animal patients and making critical research discoveries,” says School of Veterinary Medicine Dean Mark D. Markel. “We are grateful for WARF’s generous gift and continued partnership with the school and university to fuel innovation, and for the support of the state and our many building donors.”

The School of Veterinary Medicine’s building expansion will improve instruction space for students; double the size of the school’s small animal hospital and significantly enhance its large animal hospital; expand labs for studying naturally occurring animal and human diseases; increase and modernize infectious disease research space; and more.

“We are pleased to support this addition and renovation to allow the SVM to continue its trajectory of excellence,” says Erik Iverson, WARF’s chief executive officer. “The school performs globally vital research that generates important breakthroughs for not only animal but also human health.”

School of Veterinary Medicine programs in veterinary medical education, research, clinical practice and service enhance the health of both animals and people. The school opened its doors in 1983 and has since graduated 2,500 veterinarians. Approximately half of the state’s veterinarians are UW SVM alumni and 70 percent of resident students remain in Wisconsin to practice after graduation.

The school’s teaching hospital, UW Veterinary Care, sees nearly 28,000 patient visits annually across more than 20 specialty services (the current hospital was built to see 12,000 patient visits annually). SVM research discoveries have advanced cancer treatments for pets and people, identified new ways to fight the flu, helped optimize cow comfort and health, and delivered myriad other insights in veterinary and human medicine.

Design for the building project has begun and construction is expected to begin in the summer of 2021, with projected completion of the addition in 2023 and renovations to the existing building in 2024. Fundraising will continue for specialized equipment required by the hospital and researchers but not included in the project budget.

“With these enhanced facilities, the impact that the School of Veterinary Medicine has on the state, its citizens and their animals – as well as the world – will only continue to grow,” says Markel.

WARF, the nation’s oldest technology transfer office, is devoted to obtaining and licensing patents for university research and advancing transformative discoveries to the marketplace. WARF has prospered for nine decades by licensing patents earned by UW–Madison inventors, delivering the 2019 dollar equivalent of $2.7 billion to fund the university. WARF regularly partners with the School of Veterinary Medicine faculty, staff and students on bringing new discoveries to the market to benefit the world.

In a previous collaboration with the School of Veterinary Medicine, WARF helped to establish the Wisconsin Influenza Research Institute. This institute houses the research program of Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a professor of pathobiological sciences in the SVM and internationally renowned leader in the study of viruses and infectious disease. Kawaoka’s research has revolutionized understanding of viruses and infectious disease and has allowed WARF to file dozens of new patents, resulting in royalties of more than $24 million in the past 12 years. WARF continues to work with Kawaoka and several other SVM researchers today.