Monday, December 05, 2005

State Funding for Bioscience Research

Here is an article about the need for increased state funding for Virginia's research efforts. UVA and Tech are not in the top 50 yet, so additional funding is critical.

George Mason president calls for more research funds
By Neil Adler, Staff Reporter

George Mason University needs about $25 million in additional funds over the next five years from Virginia lawmakers to propel it into a top-notch research university that will better compete for jobs in biotechnology and other high-tech industries, says its president.

In a meeting Nov. 28 with delegates from Northern Virginia, George Mason President Alan Merten called on the legislators for additional funding, which the university would use specifically to recruit faculty members known worldwide for their focus in cancer biology and bioengineering, as well as the neurosciences.

Merten says the university is hoping to generate research dollars of about $150 million over the next five years, putting George Mason in the top 100 research universities nationwide. Investing in George Mason will benefit Virginia's economy over the long term, university officials say, by attracting additional researchers and biotech companies to the community.

While several hundred biotech and pharmaceutical companies have a presence in Virginia, the bulk of attention -- and research dollars -- still go to research organizations and private-sector companies along the Interstate 270 corridor in Montgomery County, where a much larger cluster of drug-development firms exists.

Local biotech industry officials say for Northern Virginia to rival Montgomery County, universities must do their part by improving education and convincing top scientists and lab researchers to conduct their work locally. Some officials in Virginia say a new campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a roughly $500 million facility slated to open in Ashburn late in 2006, will do its part to command attention.

"George Mason University is poised to become a premier research facility in the world," Merten says in a statement. "The best way to achieve this goal, from an economic standpoint, is to invest in growing Mason's already solid base of highly regarded researchers."

The university says it recently hired Matthew Kluger as its vice president of research. Kluger previously was vice president of research and dean of the School of Graduate Studies at the Medical College of Georgia

Will Governor Warner include any funding for bioscience research or for recommendations from the State Biotech Commission? Rumors are rampant, but no solid info yet...

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