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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

UNCP dedicates Biotechnology Research and Training Center

The University of North Carolina at Pembroke dedicated its new Biotechnology Research and Training Center on March 13.

Chancellor Meadors speaking

Chancellor Allen C. Meadors speaking

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Located off-campus at the Regional Center for Economic, Community and Professional Development, the center is a laboratory for training the next generation of scientists, for faculty research and commercial ventures.

Chancellor Allen C. Meadors said years of planning went into the development of the 4,632 square-foot facility.

“We have talked about this facility for seven years, and now we’re walking the walk,” Chancellor Meadors said. “This is a place for hands-on research and training of students who will become scientists.”

Dr. William Gash, associate vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, said the project is an example of a regional university at its best.

“This is a visible commitment to helping meet the needs of the community and region,” Dr. Gash said. “It will serve as a resource to business and industry, entrepreneurs, local agricultural and viniculture experts, K-12, and citizens of the region.

“The center will provide opportunities for partnerships with organizations and individuals in applied research and training,” he continued.

Teaching will be the most important function of the Biotechnology Center, Dr. Gash said.

Student researcher John Locklear in the Sartorius Stedim Lab

Student researcher John Locklear in the Sartorius Stedim Lab

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At a cost of $1.9 million, the facility has five labs and offices. It was designed by BJAC of Raleigh and constructed by Player Inc. of Fayetteville.

Earlier in the week, the University dedicated a lab within the center to Sartorius Stedim, an international manufacturer of lab equipment. The company donated a bioreactor, valued at more than $50,000 that will grow cells and bacteria in a sterile and stable environment.

“Pure science” is what lead scientist Dr. Len Holmes said of the Biotechnology Center’s future.

“The mission of the lab is investigative science and the training of students,” Dr. Holmes said. “There are also commercial applications to this.”

For instance, the center is in talks with a start-up company in the region that ferments algae into ethanol,” Dr. Holmes noted.

“Our role would be to develop fermentation protocols,” he said. “I am working on grants and other revenue streams to keep students working and science moving forward.”

For more information, the Biotechnology Center may be contacted at 910.775.4000 or biotech@uncp.edu.

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