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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Media Contact: Linda A. Acciardo, 874-7892

Gov. Carcieri launches biotech initiative at URI

Bond referendum would go before voters in fiscal 2004 to fund new building

KINGSTON, R.I. -- May 12, 2003 -- Standing near the future site of a new biotechnology building on the campus of the University of Rhode Island, Gov. Don Carcieri announced the beginnings of a biotechnology initiative at URI that will spur economic development, create jobs, and provide the state’s growing biotechnology industry with much needed research and development. The governor made the announcement along with Lt. Gov. Charles Fogarty, Speaker of the House William Murphy, Judge Frank Caprio, chairman of the R.I. Board of Governors for Higher Education; and URI President Robert L. Carothers.

"As you know, it’s my goal to create 20,000 good paying jobs over the next four years," said Governor Carcieri. "That’s why we’re targeting growth industries such as biotechnology. I have proposed $300,000 to build a Biotech Training Lab at URI in Providence. Recently, I announced that Amgen has contributed $25,000 towards this effort. Also earmarked in my budget is another $300,000 for this new center.

"These two biotech projects will send a clear message to biotech firms throughout the country that Rhode Island has the skilled workforce for this industry. That, in turn, will encourage new businesses to open their doors here and existing companies to expand," added the Governor.

President Carothers said, "Institutions of higher education play a key role in economic development, and with the governor’s support of the University’s biotechnology initiative I’m certain that we can help position the state of Rhode Island as the place biotech companies will want to locate their businesses. URI can provide the industry with the research and development support and the trained employees they need to thrive."

The biggest project of URI’s biotechnology initiative will be the construction of a 100,000-square-foot Center for Biotechnology and Molecular Biosciences on the north part of the Kingston Campus. What would be the largest academic building on campus will be a center of biotechnology research and development on a wide range of human health, plant, animal and environmental topics. It will be designed using the most environmentally advanced technologies.

Carcieri has included a $300,000 appropriation in the next state budget for planning and design work on the facility, in addition to the $200,000 appropriated by the legislature last year. Rhode Island voters will be asked to approve a $50 million bond referendum in fiscal 2004 for the bulk of the project’s funding, which includes funds for the renovation of the nearby Biological Sciences Center. The Center would be transformed into a state-of-the art teaching, research and laboratory facility. When completed, the two buildings will form part of a new life sciences quad on the north part of the Kingston campus.

"This isn’t just money for a new building," said Carothers, "but an important investment in the economic future of Rhode Island."

"The facility will house all the molecular biologists and biotechnologists from around the campus, " explained Jeffrey Seemann, dean of the URI College of the Environment and Life Sciences and the primary spokesman for the University’s initiative. "By housing all these researchers together without the real and artificial walls that have separated faculty and departments, we can create an exciting new economy for Rhode Island. Furthermore, we envision tremendous economies of scale by sharing state-of-the-art equipment and facilities."

The building will contain modern research laboratories, including core facilities for DNA sequencing and genomics. Furthermore, Seemann envisions space in the building devoted to helping catalyze the creation of new biotechnology companies in Rhode Island.

"The building will be just as important for undergraduate education as it will be for research," added Seemann. "I expect to see not only large numbers of graduate students but also undergraduates substantially involved in the faculty research programs being carried out in this new center. It will elevate the level and quality of education we provide to our students."

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