College of Chemistry, Berkeley

ChemiCAL Science and Engineering

Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley scientists will occupy lab space in a building renovated for biotech research, previously leased by the Bayer Corporation. Photo courtesy Berkeley Lab.

Excerpted from Ron Kolb

Potter Street: A New Address for the Biosciences

One of the explosive growth areas in research in the college is in biosciences. This is especially true for multidisciplinary efforts in synthetic biology, cell and molecular biology, cancer research, and quantitative biology.

Over the next several years, the world is likely to become very familiar with the address 717 Potter Street in Berkeley, where much of the action in these fields will take place.

The campus and lab combined forces to find and lease from Wareham Development of San Francisco 72,000 square feet of specialized research and development laboratory space in a building there, one that is perfectly suited to the technical demands of today’s biosciences. Previously leased to pharmaceutical giant Bayer Corporation, the building ­ one of 15 on Wareham’s west Berkeley life sciences “campus” -- was fully renovated for biotech research in 1997. The space is in excellent condition, with large general laboratories, adjacent cold and warm rooms, viral suites, tissue culture rooms, lab benches and hoods, and other equipment and furniture.

Noted Dean Clayton Heathcock, “It is a big expansion of a relatively new program, and an interim solution to allow new exciting programs to develop while big building projects continue on campus.”

Scientists from the college, including those in the labs of Carlos Bustamante and Jay Keasling, and those associated with LBNL, largely from Life Sciences and Physical Biosciences, will occupy most of the second floor. Among the researchers will be Joe Gray, Mina Bissell, Mary Helen Barcellos-Hoff, Damir Sudar, Paul Yaswen and Saira Mian. Joint appointees with UC Berkeley include Adam Arkin and Daniel Fletcher.

In all, about 200 scientists and staff are expected to move to Potter Street beginning in April. The initial five-year term of the lease includes options to renew for up to 20 years.

Although there will be a physical separation between the scientists and the campus, the faculty and students will still be linked to the campus via their appointments as well as the West Berkeley shuttle, a free shuttle bus service linking the West Berkeley area with the Ashby BART station.

One of the Potter Street selling points was its proximity to other institutions which might engage in collaborative research, such as Bayer, Xoma, Dynavax, UC San Francisco and its Mission Bay campus, Chiron, and other biotech firms.

Related sites:

Carlos Bustamante website

Jay Keasling website

LBNL story

West Berkeley shuttle information