UChicago Medicine, UChicago and City Colleges of Chicago forge healthcare education and clinical lab partnership

Aerial photograph of Washington Park
UChicago Medicine plans to build a new specialized clinical lab facility along East Garfield Boulevard in Washington Park, bringing jobs and supporting healthcare career pathways on the South Side.

The University of Chicago Medicine and the University of Chicago are partnering with City Colleges of Chicago on a project that will create new jobs, establish healthcare career pathways for South Side residents, and enhance and expand capacity of clinical lab facilities on the medical center campus.

A main component of the joint project involves construction of a new facility that will consolidate UChicago Medicine's existing clinical labs on underutilized land along East Garfield Boulevard in Washington Park. The clinical lab facility would support 550 jobs — including approximately 200 new positions — and drive healthcare careers for South Side residents.

“We are excited to continue investing in the health and economic vitality of our community through this planned project in Washington Park,” said Tom Jackiewicz, President of the University of Chicago Health System. “The facility will bring much-needed jobs to Chicago’s South Side and strengthen the pipeline for local residents to pursue careers in healthcare, including at UChicago Medicine.”

UChicago Medicine’s new lab facility will improve the academic health system's lab test efficiency and capabilities, which will better serve patients and their care teams. It also will add lab capacity to meet the expanded diagnostic needs of a new cancer pavilion, the state's first standalone facility dedicated to cancer care and research, which is projected to open in 2027.

“Our plans for a new lab facility will help ensure that patients at UChicago Medicine continue to receive the very best care,” said Daniel Arber, MD, Chair of Pathology at UChicago Medicine. “By building this space in Washington Park, we can better support our clinical needs and allow our physicians to work even more efficiently and effectively.”

The other key part of the partnership involves a new learning center for Malcolm X College. Constructed by City Colleges of Chicago, the center will be adjacent to the proposed clinical lab facility and serve up to 800 students as the first clinical lab technician program in Chicago.

Leaders gathered to announce the partnership between UChicago Medicine, University of Chicago and City Colleges of Chicago.

Growing demand for clinical lab techs

Clinical lab technicians play a vital role in the diagnosis and treatment of patients. They collect and analyze samples and perform tests to support physicians and other medical professionals to detect diseases and treat patients.

There is growing demand for clinical lab technicians, and qualified candidates are in short supply at South Side hospitals, including at UChicago Medicine. Each year, there are approximately 500 job openings for medical laboratory positions in Chicago and 1,000 in Illinois.

UChicago Medicine’s planned lab facility would support training and education with clinical rotations and experiential learning opportunities for students, accelerating their ability to secure in-demand positions that pay well.

Earning an associate degree in a clinical lab tech program qualifies graduates for positions ranging in pay from $42,000 to $80,000 a year — salaries that more than double the current median income of residents living within a half a mile of the Washington Park site. Salaries increase to $85,000 or more with a bachelor’s degree.

The proposed Malcolm X College Learning Center is part of a broader City Colleges plan to support more South Side residents interested in pursuing healthcare careers. City Colleges also will expand educational opportunities and career pathways for nursing at Kennedy-King College in Englewood.

“We are excited that City Colleges will expand training opportunities for nurses as part of our larger plan for healthcare programs and facilities on Chicago’s South Side,” said Emily Chase, PhD, RN, Chief Nursing Officer and Senior Vice President for Patient Care Services at UChicago Medicine. “Nurses are essential to the healthcare system, and we are proud to support an initiative that will attract more compassionate people into the nursing profession."

Strengthening partnerships and pathways 

The projects build on existing partnerships between UChicago Medicine and Malcolm X College, including several career pathway and pipeline programs developed over the past seven years. Each year, UChicago Medicine hosts an average of 65 Malcolm X College students on its campus through clinical and non-clinical internships, practicums, and apprenticeships; engages more than 100 students through career development events; and hires an average of 120 graduates.

“This healthcare pipeline expansion builds on a successful and strong relationship between City Colleges, the University of Chicago, and UChicago Medicine that is already placing our students into upwardly mobile careers,” Mayor Brandon Johnson said of the plans that include the Washington Park development. “I applaud the partnership and the investment on our great South Side that this project represents.”

The Washington Park facilities will be built on two adjacent plots of land on the north side of Garfield Blvd. between the Green Line track and land just east of Calumet Ave. The UChicago Medicine clinical lab facility will be built on land owned by the University of Chicago, and the Malcolm X Learning Center will be built on land owned by the CTA. Both facilities are expected to break ground in 2025 and open during the 2026-27 academic year.

UChicago Medicine’s Washington Park facility will meet construction diversity goals of 35% minority-owned contractors and 6% women-owned contractors, with 30% of hours from minority journey workers and apprentices, and 40% of hours from minority laborers.