A ninth tower serves as a bridge


On 12 October, the UCLouvain campus in Woluwe will inaugurate a new multipurpose building. Built next to the Saint-Luc University Hospital, the Laennec Tower will house the Institute of Experimental and Clinical Research (IREC) and the Academic Centre for General Medicine (CAMG). Designed as a bridge between various campus research centres, the building literally connects its laboratories and those of the neighbouring tower, including IREC’s new technological platforms.

‘I’m thoroughly convinced that the barriers between the traditional medical disciplines have to be lowered: this is what Laennec Tower is for’, says the president of the Institute of Experimental Research (IREC), Prof. Jean-Luc Balligand. The tower is named after René Laennec, inventor of the stethoscope and, as the first to describe certain oncological and chest diseases, a pioneer of medical semiology. His legacy unifies all of the entities that will occupy the building beginning in mid-October.

Many researchers will soon move in. Four areas of research, previously dispersed in different buildings, will be brought together: oncology, toxicology, immunology and cardiovascular research. ‘We wanted to create that mix, because nature doesn’t care about our disciplinary barriers’, Dr Balligand says. ‘In fact, our own cells use functionalities that are largely common and shared between tissues and organs. We therefore wanted this rapprochement so that researchers work in an environment as uncompartmentalised as possible, and in so doing promote the physical and intellectual movement of actors between disciplines, thus fostering innovation in medicine.’

Greater visibility for general medicine

This philosophy is shared by Dr Cassian Minguet, director of the Academic Centre for General Medicine (CAMG), which will occupy the tower’s ground floor. This university entity brings together all of UCLouvain's general medicine professors and will be the site of a major innovation: doctor’s offices. ‘Putting clinicians, researchers and professors in the same building is an important symbol’, Dr Minguet says. ‘We’ll gain visibility and interesting discussions will arise with our IREC neighbours.’

Specifically, some 240 multidisciplinary researchers will work in the Laennec Tower, in close collaboration with Saint-Luc University Hospital. The basement will house animals. On the ground floor, behind CAMG, the Gerty Cori Auditorium will be used by faculty. The next three floors will be dedicated to research; the first two will combine the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Centre (FATH) and the Medical Imaging, Radiotherapy and Oncology Centre (MIRO), both of whose researchers will share much of the laboratory equipment. Each of these floors will feature a kind of bridge connecting the Laennec Tower to the Harvey Tower – the ninth and eighth campus towers in order of construction – allowing access to recently renovated IREC technological platforms. Finally, the fourth and top floor will be home to the Louvain Centre for Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology (LTAP). A tower that will surely be to the height of promising and stimulating research!

Marie Dumas


Published on October 12, 2018