New Freidenrich Center will help streamline clinical research

- By Kris Newby

Mark Estes description of photo

The Jill and John Freidenrich Center for Translational Research, which was dedicated Oct. 17, is the new hub for designing and conducting clinical trials involving human subjects at Stanford.

The Stanford University Medical Center officially opened the Jill and John Freidenrich Center for Translational Research on Oct. 17, advancing the capabilities of researchers across the university to conduct the vital clinical research that translates basic science discoveries into lifesaving treatments and diagnostics.

The three-story, 30,000- square-foot building at 800 Welch Road is a state-of-the-art facility for designing and conducting human-subject clinical trials, within walking distance of Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, as well as being close to the many research centers on the Stanford campus. It was designed from the ground up to optimize teamwork and to create a friendly environment for clinical trial subjects and healthy research volunteers, both children and adults.

"The Jill and John Freidenrich Center will usher in a new era of innovation in medicine," Stanford President John Hennessy, PhD, said at the dedication ceremony. "By bringing together clinical trial researchers from across the university, it will help us address one of medicine's great challenges — how to swiftly and safely bring laboratory breakthroughs to the bedside of patients."

The Freidenrich Center will be Stanford's hub for the medical studies, also known as clinical trials, that involve testing new drugs and other therapies with human participants. While previously clinical trial work had been distributed across seven buildings on and off campus, the opening of the Freidenrich Center allows much of that work to be consolidated at one site.

"Now both adult and pediatric patients can participate in studies without having to visit multiple buildings and hassle with parking," said Branimir Sikic, professor of medicine and program director of Stanford's Clinical and Translational Research Unit. "This centralized unit is making a world of difference for both research teams and patients, by providing a comfortable and beautiful facility to increase efficiency, manage study activities, and enhance sample collection and processing."

Funded by longtime Stanford supporters Jill and John Freidenrich, the concept for the center was inspired by Jill Freidenrich's own experience facing breast cancer.

Steve Castillo description of photo

John and Jill Freidenrich listen to speakers at the building's dedication on Oct. 17.

"We are so pleased that the Center For Translational Research at Stanford has become a reality, allowing scientific discoveries to be moved into clinical treatment in a much more efficient way," said John Freidenrich.

John Freidenrich, who received both his undergraduate and law degrees from Stanford, is a former chair of the university's board of trustees and is a longstanding member of the board of Stanford Hospital & Clinics, as well as the former chair of the board at Packard Children's Hospital.

Jill Freidenrich, who also received her undergraduate degree from Stanford, is a cancer survivor who became an advocate for women after experiencing breast cancer herself. She is the co-founder of Breast Cancer Connections, a non-profit organization that provides support and information to women and families faced with breast cancer; she is an active member on the "Under One Umbrella" committee, which raises money for Stanford Women's Cancer Center; and she serves on the Stanford Cancer Council. In 2004, Jill Freidenrich received the "Universal Care Strike Out Breast Cancer Award of Courage" and the "Jewish Family and Children's Services Fammy Award." The recently renovated Women's Cancer Center's Breast Oncology program is also named for the Freidenriches.

"Jill and John Freidenrich are among the most compassionate and caring individuals I have ever known, said Philip Pizzo, MD, dean of the School of Medicine. "With that spirit and devotion they supported the building of the Freidenrich Center for Translational Research, creating a nexus as well as a bridge between Stanford's research and clinical care community that will benefit patients with cancer and many other serious medical disorders, impacting both adults and children."

The ground floor is the patient intake area, which has 16 patient bays with infusion chairs, four hospital beds, three pediatric study rooms, a sample-collection lab, two phlebotomy rooms and an outdoor play area with a separate entrance for pediatric subjects. There are also specialized rooms for informed-consent discussions, remote observation, sleep studies and exercise physiology testing.

Bruce Damonte © 2012 description of photo

The glass walls in the rooms of the Freidenrich Center where patients receive infusions or have blood drawn help dissolve the visual barriers between the inside and outside.

Floors two and three provide office space for Spectrum, directed by Harry Greenberg, MD, senior associate dean for research and the Joseph D. Grant Professor in the School of Medicine, and the clinical trials office for the Stanford Cancer Institute, directed by Beverly Mitchell, MD, the George E. Becker Professor of Medicine.

"It is great to have the Cancer Clinical Trials Office and the majority of the cancer institute clinical research staff under one roof," said Miriam Bischoff, executive administrative director of clinical research for the Stanford Cancer Institute. "Previously, staff were in separate locations all over campus. Now that we are together, collaboration has increased."

The architecture of the Freidenrich Center borrows design elements from the Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge, located at the heart of the medical school campus, with its sweeping roofline, limestone exterior and Stanford-red-clay façade. Glass walls open to gardens, a pediatric play area and a sunny patio — a radical departure from the sterile clinical environments of old. Interior colors and finishes are drawn from nature, further dissolving the visual barriers between the inside and outside.

"The Freidenrich Center provides a much-needed permanent home for clinical and translational research in child health," said Mary Chen, manager of Spectrum Child Health. "The center brings together research stakeholders in a highly collaborative environment, allowing us to address issues important to child health much faster and more efficiently than ever before."

The construction of the Freidenrich Center marks the beginning of the transformation of Welch Road, which is being redeveloped, along with the new hospitals, to be more pedestrian friendly, more integrated with the main Stanford campus and more "green." It sets a new design standard for eco-friendliness by meeting the tough 2010 California Green Building Standards Code, the first statewide "green" building code in the United States. The next project under way is the C.J. Huang building, at 780 Welch Road, the future home to the Asian Liver Center.

This $21 million Freidenrich Center was designed by WRNS Studio of San Francisco, and the general contractor was Devcon Construction Inc. of Milpitas.

Jill and John Freidenrich donated $25 million to help fund the building as well as to support cancer research at Stanford. The research infrastructure in this building receives major support from Spectrum's Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health, and from the National Cancer Institute, which funds the Stanford Cancer Institute.

Kris Newby is the communications manager for Spectrum, the Stanford Center for Clinical and Translational Education and Research. 

About Stanford Medicine

Stanford Medicine is an integrated academic health system comprising the Stanford School of Medicine and adult and pediatric health care delivery systems. Together, they harness the full potential of biomedicine through collaborative research, education and clinical care for patients. For more information, please visit

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