LJHS bioscience center to be open to San Diego schools


The committee behind the proposed Bioscience Center at La Jolla High School recently announced that plans for the state-of-the-art educational facility would include an extra lab unit, which would be available to other schools in the San Diego Unified School District. Schools without such advanced science facilities will be able to request lab time for special experiments and lessons at La Jolla High’s Bioscience Center, 750 Nautilus St.

Explaining the move, parent and member of the Bioscience Center Advisory Group, Linden Blue, said La Jolla High currently has three lab areas for biology and chemistry classes. The proposed new two-story facility will have four, each of which consists of a classroom, lab area, lecture area and a preparation area.

“There will be one (spare) lab unit available for schools that do not have such facilities to come to La Jolla and use ours,” Blue told La Jolla Light. “Some modern high school science experiments require overnight incubation or be conducted in a sterile area, and that isn’t possible in the labs built in schools in the 1980s or even the ’90s because these requirements weren’t taken into account when they were built. La Jolla could provide each of the district’s regular high schools one week of advanced lab access per semester.”

This would not be made available to schools that already have advanced facilities, such as High Tech High.

Further, several La Jolla-area scientists have shown interest in guest lecturing at the yet-unnamed Bioscience Center, and those lectures could be archived and webcast for the benefit of all high school classes in the region. “The guest lectures will connect, in an unprecedented way, the high school bioscience curriculum and laboratory experiments to the real world of scientific research and industrial drug development,” said La Jolla High School Principal Chuck Podhorsky in a press release.

By opening the facility to multiple schools, Blue noted, the hope is that donors from outside La Jolla might also be willing to contribute to its construction.

“This facility will not only benefit the students of La Jolla, including those who are bussed in, but it could benefit all students in San Diego,” Blue explained. “We’ve held several educational events over the past 12 months that led to the creation of a strong network of supporters among the local biotech industry, the Biocom Institute, academic research institutes, San Diego Unified School District and San Diego County Office of Education.”

More than $4.6 million of the necessary $8.6 million for Phase One has already been raised, he said. These figures do not include funding for the proposed amphitheater and courtyard leading to Coggan Pool on campus, which will be constructed in Phase Two of the project. Phase One construction is scheduled to begin this summer.

Naming opportunities are available for the Bioscience Center starting at $50,000 for a lab bench all the way up to the building itself for $2.5 million. In late 2014, the La Jolla Community Foundation established a donor-advised fund to manage financial contributions to the center.

“For an individual, family or group who would like to be associated with training the next generation of world-class scientists and technicians, it is an unprecedented opportunity,” said La Jolla High School parent Jeff Macelli. “It is also possible that more than one name can be on the building,” he added.

The idea for the new Bioscience Center originated from the realization that the San Diego community needs to provide its high school students with the highest quality biological science education in the country. “We are blessed to live in an environment that has biological science resources in abundance — both as world-class universities, research institutes and biotech companies,” said La Jolla High School parent Tim Scott. “Rather than import scientists and technicians from other parts of the country, or even overseas, we need to be training our own children for these high quality jobs.”

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