About BioMed 21

BJC Institute of Health

BioMed 21 is a bold Washington University initiative dedicated to translating basic science discoveries into real-world clinical solutions — an approach called translational research. BioMed 21's ultimate goal is to transform the very meaning of medicine, moving from treating symptoms of disease to arresting disease at its very root and even preventing illness altogether.

The Interdisciplinary Research Centers

To carry out its mission, BioMed 21 has established seven Interdisciplinary Research Centers (IRCs), which conduct and promote innovative translational biomedical research and education across the School of Medicine and beyond. By bringing together talented students and faculty from multiple specialties, the IRCs address scientific questions more effectively and efficiently than would otherwise be possible.

Each IRC focuses its efforts around a major disease area. For even greater impact, the IRCs strategically take aim at the specific biological malfunctions that give rise to entire disease families, with the goal of devising solutions and applying them broadly. The task is complex, the potential rewards staggering.

The IRCs are housed primarily in the BJC Institute of Health at Washington University School of Medicine, located centrally on the Washington University Medical Center campus.

The IRCs

The Cornerstones

BioMed 21 also establishes three Cornerstone centers, which support the IRCs by providing broad research expertise, technological services, pilot funding and research education opportunities.


A major aim of BioMed 21 is to gather resources, including National Institutes of Health (NIH) support and gifts from friends and supporters. Recent grants include:

  • A $65 million agreement with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to understand the genomic basis of childhood cancers

  • $8.3 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to delineate the link between childhood malnutrition and the microbial community of the intestine

  • A renewed commitment from the NIH in the form of a $53 million grant to support the Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences for "Accelerating Discoveries Toward Better Health"

  • $2.4 million from the NIH in two grants to support faculty recruitment in cardiovascular disease and neurodegeneration in two of the BioMed21 IRCs

  • A $30 million NIH grant to image and map the neural connections in the human brain

  • A $16 million grant from the NIH to decode the genomes of the human microbiome

  • An $8 million grant from the NIH to understand the contribution of the gut microbiome to obesity

  • A $114 million grant from the NIH to the Genome Institute to continue its groundbreaking genomic research

  • A $2.8 million grant to the Genome Institute to advance technologies for DNA sequencing and mutation detection

  • A $1 million grant from the Keck Foundation to systematically record gene activation during development

  • A $10 million challenge grant from the Danforth Foundation to advance research to address neurodegenerative diseases


BioMed 21 also defines new spaces to house promising research and educational programs, including:

  • 240,000 square feet of new research space in the new BJC Institute of Health at Washington University School of Medicine in the center of the medical campus

  • The Farrell Learning and Teaching Center, an important teaching component of BioMed 21

  • A 40,000-gross-square-foot facility designed to spur development of mouse models for human diseases

  • A 32,000-square-foot data center to meet the massive computing needs of The Genome Institute

  • 15,000 square feet of space added to the Center for Genome Sciences & Systems Biology to support new investigators

  • 7,000 square feet of renovated space to house the Center for the Study of Itch