The University of Chicago

Ancient DNA Lab

The Ancient DNA (aDNA) lab at the University of Chicago is one of just a small number around the world and HERA was asked to program and plan a state-of-the-art lab to enable world-class research by the Human Genetics Department.

This showcase lab is used to help recruit and retain researchers and students who recover DNA from the far past from mummified tissue, skeletons or hair samples to study the genome of modern-day populations of humans.

The aDNA lab is a 24/7 operation that requires tight security and exacting power, temperature and cleanliness levels to perform at optimum efficiency.

The lab is composed of three separate areas of a minimum of ISO 7 cleanroom:

  • The antechamber for storage, receiving, gowning and general entrance
  • The sample prep room for dirty work, including grinding, drilling and extracting
  • The wet lab for DNA library prep houses an ISO 5 biosafety cabinet

Based on the space requirements HERA developed, The University of Chicago selected two locations on campus. HERA collaborated with the university to evaluate those options and develop a design and construction budget for each.


Chicago, Illinois


1,643 gross square feet


Program validation and space selection/planning