RIT to Dedicate the Center for Bioscience Education and Technology on April 26

New York state legislators and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver expected to attend the event




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Rochester Institute of Technology’s Center for Bioscience Education and Technology (CBET) is geared to fill an increasing demand for skilled workers in the local bioscience and health care sectors. CBET is also positioned to become a resource for community education and a source of inspiration for young people considering bioscience careers.

The formal dedication of CBET will take place from 2 to 3 p.m. Thursday, April 26, in a tent near the new facility. Joining in the ceremony and ribbon cutting will be Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, members of the New York State Assembly and Senate who sponsored the funding, and representatives of Excellus BlueCross and BlueShield who also supported the facility. An open house will follow the event. CBET, building 75, is located across from the IT Collaboratory.

The $12 million, 35,000-square-foot facility is a national model for comprehensive academic, community and career-training programs in biotechnology and medical sciences. CBET was made possible through the efforts of Sen. Jim Alesi, Assemblymember Susan John and Assemblyman Joe Morelle, who secured $8 million in state funding through the Gen*NY*sis and RESTORE NY programs, with the support of Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

RIT provided an additional $4 million toward the building. In 2005, Excellus presented RIT with a $2 million multi-year grant to equip and maintain the building with the latest technology and to support its academic and community outreach programs.

“The RIT Center for Bioscience Education and Technology is the next step forward in Rochester’s continuing legacy of world-class R&D,” Silver says. “At the urging of the Rochester-area delegation, including Assembly members Joe Morelle, Susan John and David Koon, the Assembly invested $4 million in CBET to nurture the development of the region’s biomedical corridor, to generate the jobs of tomorrow, and to ensure that Rochester will continue to be home to a well-trained and highly skilled workforce. This is a smart investment in a smart institution.”

Assemblyman Joe Morelle says: “One of the key factors in the renaissance of the upstate economy will be new and stronger alliances between our great institutions of learning and the private sector as we seek to develop and retain a new and highly skilled generation of workers. RIT’s new Center for Bioscience Education and Technology will prove to be an invaluable resource for the future of this region and our entire state, and is a great enhancement of an already extraordinary university.”

Adds Douglas Merrill, director of CBET: “This center has become a reality at a time when the need for such a facility has never been greater. It will ensure that countless students and community healthcare professionals studying and exploring the bioscience disciplines will receive an extraordinary education that is truly outstanding in all regards,” he adds. “It will serve as a model of the type of successful and effective industry-government-university partnership needed to prepare American students to be competitive for high-tech bioscience and medical careers in the 21st century.”

CBET consists of three distinct learning divisions:

  • the Excellus BCBS Center for Bioscience Exploration and Discovery, comprising five multipurpose, high-tech laboratories and classrooms for academic programs, continuing education workshops, K-12 student summer academies and secondary-school teacher training programs;
  • the Center for Bioscience Workforce Training, consisting of an industrial microbiology and tissue culture lab for specialized certificate and professional development programs in bioprocessing and biomanufacturing;
  • and the Center for Multidisciplinary Bioscience Research, a laboratory suite for conducting collaborative undergraduate research across bioscience disciplines.

“The biosciences present a significant economic opportunity for this region, and this Center will help to fuel this opportunity by serving as a resource for one of the indispensable drivers for this industry....a highly skilled workforce,” says Al Simone, RIT President. “The new Center will further strengthen the region’s assets in the bioscience arena.”

“This is a perfect example of the best use of public funding as an investment in economic development,” says Sen. Jim Alesi. “The key to New York’s high tech future rests in the hands of our universities that not only educate the necessary workforce, but also attract the best and brightest professors to do research in the fields of math and science. The opening of RIT’s Center for Bioscience Education and Technology represents a significant step towards establishing the Rochester region as the epicenter for biotechnology research and education. This center will not only create jobs, but also attract new talent who will help grow the economy by making Rochester their home.”

Adds Assemblyman David Koon: “I want to thank RIT for being forward thinkers in building such a wonderful facility that will not only advance RIT in today’s high-tech age, but will also be a great economic development tool for the Rochester area.”

Currently, the greater Rochester region is home to over 70 biotechnology and life science-related companies. The Greater Rochester Enterprise has identified this area as a targeted cluster in its business development strategy. In 2003, the region was identified as one of the top 40 biotechnology locations in the United States by a noted site selection journal.

“I am pleased to join my colleagues, Joe Morelle and Jim Alesi, in working hard to provide this resource to RIT and our community,” says Assemblymember Susan John. “The Center for Bioscience Education and Technology will bring much needed economic development to Rochester and will add to the already growing biotechnology and science companies. Our community has a rich history of technological innovation, and the Center for Bioscience Education and Technology will lead the next generation to the cutting-edge of scientific research. The Center will provide exciting academic opportunities for our young people as well as provide new career paths for displaced workers. I applaud President Simone for his vision to bring the Center to Rochester.”

CBET has already begun to fulfill its mission. A new degree program in biomedical sciences was introduced this fall, and programs in echocardiography and clinical research technology are being developed for implementation next year. The research labs are busy with students investigating topics ranging from proteomics to sea urchin development to the genetics of age-related hearing loss.

In addition, the center is already hosting Saturday workshops for high school students from Rush-Henrietta and Edison Tech, and for inner city students enrolled in a joint Monroe Community College-RIT program sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. Plans are also underway to host a health careers summer camp at CBET for ninth graders attending the Franklin Bioscience and Health Careers High School.

“CBET is a real Rochester community-RIT asset,” Merrill says. “We want people to think about the Center that way and to partner with us to explore unique ways to address the bioscience education needs of the community.”

For more information about CBET, visit www.cbet.org.

Rochester Institute of Technology is internationally recognized for academic leadership in computing, engineering, imaging technology, and fine and applied arts, in addition to unparalleled support services for students with hearing loss. More than 15,500 full- and part-time students are enrolled in RIT’s 340 career-oriented and professional programs, and its cooperative education program is one of the oldest and largest in the nation.

For nearly two decades, U.S. News & World Report has ranked RIT among the nation’s leading comprehensive universities. The Princeton Review features RIT in its 2007 Best 361 Colleges rankings and named the university one of America’s “Most Wired Campuses.” RIT is also featured in Barron’s Best Buys in Education.