State Assembly to Announce Support for RIT’s Biotechnology Center

Total $8 million in state money will fund 46,000-square-foot facility to house CBET

Assemblyman Joseph Morelle, along with Assemblymember Susan John announced today the New York state Assembly’s support of Rochester Institute of Technology’s Center for Biotechnology Education and Training (CBET) with $4 million in funding.

This brings the total state commitment to date to $8 million, including $4 million from the state Senate’s Gen*NY*sis fund announced last month by Sen. Jim Alesi.

The $8 million will allow RIT to begin the design process immediately for a 46,000-square-foot facility to house CBET.

"This is tremendous news for RIT and for the Rochester community," says RIT President Albert Simone. "This funding provides us with the additional resources needed to move forward on this important program. Workforce is the number one issue for companies in the biotech industry that are making site location decisions. Because of CBET, it is possible for Rochester and RIT to offer an extraordinary advantage to this industry-that is, access to the highly specialized talent that this facility will provide."

CBET will train professionals in the biotech industry and educate the lay-community about biotech issues in the news, such as the biology of bioterrorism and its environmental effects.

"We are extremely grateful to Assemblyman Joe Morelle, Assemblymember Susan John, and their colleagues in our Assembly delegation, and especially to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, for this investment in RIT," Simone notes.

The center was conceived as a national model for comprehensive academic and career training programs in biotechnology. It grew from a workforce study conducted by RIT’s Douglas Merrill, head of the department of biological sciences and Gary Skuse, director of bioinformatics.

The center will increase New York state’s competitive presence in the biotechnology marketplace.

"Downsized workers from related fields can be trained to fill available biomanufacturing positions," says Roy Snoke, CBET director.

In addition, CBET will:

  • Provide a well-trained workforce through training and retraining
  • Develop programs in the newest and emerging disciplines in biotechnology
  • Address national needs related to bioterrorism
  • Promote community education in biotechnology

    Outreach efforts will include workshops such as "DNA and the Law" designed for lawyers, and a program on genetically modified foods, under development for local growers and food distributor groups.

    Future workshops are envisioned for political leaders who must make decisions about biotechnology; journalists who report on biotechnology issues; and members of the medical and insurance industries who need to know facts about DNA testing and genetic diseases.

    For more information about CBET, contact Douglas Merrill, head of RIT’s Department of Biological Sciences, at 585-475-2496 or Roy Snoke, director of CBET, at 585-475-7902.

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