Vol. 20, No. 15
May 3, 2001
Dedication ceremony spotlights UD's role in biotechnology
The Delaware Biotechnology Institute's new 72,000-square-foot research center, designed to keep the state in the forefront of the life sciences revolution, was dedicated during ceremonies April 26.
University President David P. Roselle and DBI Director David S. Weir welcomed an enthusiastic crowd of about 200 people.
Guests included Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, Nobel laureate Norman E. Borlaug, who is known as the father of the "green revolution," and Sydney Brenner, distinguished professor at the Salk Institute of Biological Studies and a pioneer in the biological revolution. Borlaug and Brenner delivered afternoon lectures in Mitchell Hall as part of the daylong dedication event.
Also on hand for the morning ceremony were state legislators, corporate partners and representatives of other institutions of higher education, including Delaware State University President William DeLauder.
"Today we gather to celebrate a milestone for the University of Delaware and for the state of Delaware, with the dedication of the Delaware Biotechnology Institute research facility," Roselle said. "This handsome, elegant facility was designed for scientists by scientists. It serves as a reminder and a very real symbol of a partnership between the state of Delaware, higher education institutions and the private sector.
"This facility demonstrates, better than any words could do, the promise and the benefit that can come to us all when these three entities work together."
The partnership is sound, Roselle said, because each of the three groups represented share equally in the goals of "good science, quality education and enhanced job opportunities."
Roselle said the state "has long been respected for scientific excellence and innovation" and that the discoveries of the past few years show that "biotechnology holds great promise, with far-reaching impacts throughout human society."
"As UD president, I am especially pleased to have this wonderful research center at our doorstep, bringing together as it does faculty from 11 academic departments," Roselle said. "Working with these faculty members, our studentsgraduate and undergraduateare not only involved in the best cutting-edge research but also are getting a priceless lesson in the value of interdisciplinary inquiry."
"It is clear that the astounding discoveries in biotechnology promise to improve human well-being and the overall quality of life as much as any previous human achievement," Weir said.
Delaware "has been a major player in this revolution," Weir said, adding that the role of DBI is to advance the state's biotechnology capabilities even further by creating a network of people and facilities to enhance existing academic and private sector research, to catalyze unique cross-disciplinary initiatives in research and education and to foster entrepreneurship.
At full operation, Weir said, research at DBI will be led by a group of about 25 UD faculty members12 are now in placeand the facility will be home to about 160 people, including graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.
"The institute's primary areas of research interestagriculture, human health, marine ecosystems and biomaterialsare important to the prosperity of the state," Weir said.
Already, job creation through DBI in cooperation with the Delaware Technology Park "has exceeded our expectations," with about 35 companies in the park, Weir said. "A collaboration with a pharmaceutical company has been executed, three start-up companies are in residence, a venture capital group has moved in and a women's health-care company has made the institute its corporate headquarters."
By 2005, he said, "we expect to have contributed to the generation of about 2,000 new jobs and between $100 million and $150 million revenue."
Gov. Minner warmly endorsed the project, saying biotechnology is close to her heart because a granddaughter has a gene-related medical condition. She said she looks forward to the day when researchers make the discovery that leads to a cure, not only for her granddaughter but also for others who have similar conditions.
"This is one of the most important things we as a state can be involved in," Minner said. "The genius in that building will change our country and the world. Their work will have an impact that will remain with us for many years.
"There is no question but that biotechnology will be a major part of the economic growth of this state, and of many other states, as we move forward," Minner said. "It is good to see that Delaware is ahead of the curve in biotechnology research."
Joan Thompson Mobley, secretary-treasurer of the University's Board of Trustees, made the formal dedication, saying, "The Delaware Biotechnology Institute will position the First State as a world leader in biotechnology and the life sciences."
Following a ribbon-cutting, guests toured the facility, which includes 23 laboratories, six state-of-the-art research instrumentation centers, 15 common equipment laboratories and several conference areas.
Photo by KATHY FLICKINGER