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10-24-2005

Senators Meier, Wright And Other State Officials Are On Hand As Clarkson Dedicates Biotechnology Wing

Thirty-two months after New York State Governor George E. Pataki and State Senator Raymond A. Meier announced a $4.5 million grant for biotechnology research at Clarkson, the University officially opened a new 10,000-square-foot research facility.

The new biotechnology wing of the Cora and Bayard Clarkson Science Center, dedicated Friday, houses eight state-of-the-art laboratories, eight offices, and six multiuse research spaces. The high-tech laboratories are equipped with an atomic force microscope, used for looking at surface phenomena and a confocal (laser) microscope, used for visualizing surface cells. There is also a tissue culture room; a freezer room for storing materials up to minus 80° C., the temperature at which DNA is stored to keep it from degrading; a florescent microscopy room; a centrifuge room; and a cold room.

University Board of Trustees Chair Jack Welch welcomed the faculty, trustees, state officials, and contractors. University President Tony Collins then thanked Governor Pataki (not present), Senator Meier, Senator Jim Wright, and other elected officials in the North Country who helped make the Gen*NY*sis grant possible. "Breakthroughs come fast and furious in the field of biotechnology, which spans the boundaries of many of the traditional science fields," Collins told the group. "Many of Clarkson's own experts — from the fields of biology, chemistry, engineering and physics — will come together in the Biotechnology Wing to pursue their own intellectual endeavors."

Gen*NY*sis, an acronym for "Generating Employment through New York Science," seeks to bring the academic world and the business world together to create and apply technology, and ultimately create New York jobs. Clarkson matched the $4.5 million Gen*NY*sis funding with an additional $1.5 million.

In addition to assistive and adaptive technologies, Clarkson is doing world-class research in a host of other biotech areas. Whether studying the relationship between a virus and cervical cancer, developing biosensors, coatings for heart valve replacements, or studying pain-blocking enzymes in cone snails, the researchers are connected by their use of biological materials and processes to solve human needs. As research moves from its laboratories into commercially viable ventures, Clarkson hopes to create high-tech jobs in St. Lawrence County.

Constructing the biotech facility under the third story wing of the 34-year old Arts & Sciences building challenged both Berkowsky and Associates Inc. (Project architect) and Danko Construction Corporation (General contractor). The "science infill" project, as it was dubbed internally, called for extending the 17 support columns an additional eight feet into the ground. To accomplish this, footers were poured on either side of each column, temporary steel support structures were built to support the columns, and the columns were then cut above the ground. The area below the columns was excavated and new columns were poured "up" to meet the existing columns. The temporary support structures and footers were removed and construction on the wing was then able to get underway.

Addressing the assembled group of faculty, staff, state officials, trustees and contractors, Senator Meier remarked, "I can remember when the prospect of opening a facility such as this at Clarkson was only an idea. It gives me great pleasure to be present today for the opening of this incredible high-technology wing. Biotechnology advances are made everyday to improve all aspects of our lives and those of our future generations. With the opening of this new wing, we are placing New York state and Clarkson University at the top echelon in the field of biotechnology and biotechnology job creation."

Biotechnology is a rapidly expanding industry that has implications in almost every facet of our everyday lives from health and medical breakthroughs to the environment and producing food for an expanding world population. Clarkson's leadership in biotechnology research should help bring prominence to both the University and the North County.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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