University and medical trade groups recently warned the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that lack of lab space is a "significant constraint for new research." Yet the plea for money to build new facilities comes as many areas of the country report falling prices and rising vacancy rates for shiny new laboratories that were once the pride of the biotech boom. Research real estate specialists say current conditions could mean bargains for schools adroit in dealing on the open market for lab space.

Presidents of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the Association of American Universities (AAU), and the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC) outlined the research space crunch in a May 9 letter in response to an NIH request for input on its research resources strategic plan for the years 2004 through 2008.

General clinical research centers, biotech institutes, animal facilities, and specialized lab...

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