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COLUMBIA - The University of Missouri’s Thompson Center opens its new training and research facility Friday.

The Thompson Center focuses on autism research, patient care and training. Dr. Steve Kanne, executive director at the Thompson Center, said these three components make the center special.

“What’s interesting about the Thompson Center, and what makes it unique across the country, is we actually have three different missions,” he said.

Kanne said they needed a building to be able to support their 40 plus research projects - some of which span across the country.

Kanne also said the new facility will free up room in the current building to better treat patients.

“Every time we opened up a building, we already knew we’d be out of room,” he said. "So even when we opened up in 2010 we already realized we’d be short on space.”

Dr. Jena Randolph, training director at the Thompson Center, said she’s very excited for the new space.

“It’s tripled our capacity - just to be able to bring both care givers and professionals in to learn best practice for working with youth with autism,” she said. “When we designed the space we really kept on the forefront of our minds that not everyone can always come to us for training.”

Randolph said with the new facility’s advanced technology, it will be easier to reach out to people in more remote areas.

“Instead of always having to have people come to us, we can now use the technology that we have here in the new building, to make sure that they can stay right where they’re at, and get access to experts in the field,” she said.

Kanne expressed his gratitude for the new building.

“A place like this can’t exist without the support of the community, and without the support of the state and without the support of the generous donations that we get,” he said.

The facility’s grand opening features tours, presentations and a raffle.

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