By Cara Thomas
Updated Friday, June 23, 2017 at 05:27 PM EDT

Heart disease claims hundreds of thousands of lives every year. Scientists at the Masonic Medical Research Laboratory in Utica have spent decades looking for a cure. On Friday, they announced plans for a multi-million dollar renovation. Cara Thomas reports that these new facilities will hopefully be a springboard to more groundbreaking research.

It’s an announcement that’s been long awaited: The Masonic Medical Research Laboratory is getting a face-lift.

On Friday, local leaders announced the kick-off of a nearly $3 million renovation at the research facility, with a $550,000 financial backing from the state.

The second and third floors will soon be transformed into state-of-the-art laboratories. These renovations will help scientists advance their research into irregular heartbeats.

“What we hope to do by that is to further investigate the root causes of both congenital and acquired heart disease and help find better cures and treatments for all those affected by this No. 1 killer in America,” said John Zielinski, the CFO of MMRL.

Officials say this renovation is long overdue. The last major update at the laboratory was in 2004.

“To say that technology has changed in the last 13 years would be an understatement,” said MMRL Board of Directors President David Schneeweiss. “I don’t want to give the impression that the MMRL hasn’t kept up with the changes, because it certainly has, but it hasn’t taken on a major renovation of this size in over a decade, and that is why it is time now.”

Construction is scheduled to begin next week and be completed by the end of November.