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Thursday, September 23, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Research center named for ex-Oregon senator

The Associated Press

Former U.S. Sen. Mark Hatfield, who during his 30-year Senate career lobbied often for scientific research dollars, yesterday helped open a new National Institutes of Health (NIH) building named in his honor.

At opening ceremonies in Bethesda, Md., Hatfield, an Oregon Republican, said he hoped that the new building would lead to advances in stroke, cancer and viral research.

"When I look at this building I see a human mosaic that embodies all of the good science and medicine done here," Hatfield said in prepared remarks. "As medical research increases so does hope and my wish for an abundance of cures."

The Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center is one of the most significant additions to the NIH campus in 50 years, said spokeswoman Diane Needham. The new center has been under construction since 1997.

The center will connect to the adjacent Warren G. Magnuson Clinical Center, which opened in 1953 and is named for the former longtime U.S. senator from the state of Washington. The resulting complex will become the largest hospital in the world dedicated exclusively to clinical research, center officials said.

Floor design in the building places laboratories near hospital beds, more closely linking research and treatment, center officials said.

"There is nothing like this in the world, where patients can partner with researchers in such an undertaking," said Marston Linehan, who is in charge of patient care for the National Cancer Institute.

About 4,000 doctors, researchers and support staff will work at the new center; the first patients are expected to be seen in December.

National Institutes of Health funding increased during Hatfield's eight years as chairman of the Committee on Appropriations, starting in 1981. During that time, he secured funding for research on sleep disorders, AIDS, Alzheimer's disease and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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