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Developing Facilities to Address Critical Issues in Biotechnology


<OL> <LI>Build and equip state-of-the-art research laboratories to support the Rhode Island Agricultural Experiment Station (RIAES) Hatch-based projects. <LI>Support current and future, federally-funded, molecular-based research. <LI>Devise solutions to critical agriculture and environmental issues in the state, region and country. <LI>Stimulate state economic development and workforce training.

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Non-Technical Summary: The University of Rhode Island is currently constructing a new research and teaching laboratory building dedicated to biotechnology and the life sciences (The Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences.) This center will serve as a state-wide hub for molecular-based research. Scientists housed in the center will work toward resolving the critical environmental and agriculture issues faced in this state, region and country. This will include research on identification of biotechnological solutions to Lyme and other vector-borne diseases; improving the success rates of aquaculture operations; diseases of aquatic organisms; developing disease-resistant native plant species; and potential bioenergy applications. <P> Approach: The life sciences are in the midst of a technological revolution that springs from our capacity to completely decipher the genetic code of all living organisms. However, the capacity to decipher and evaluate the genetic code requires the appropriate and specialized infrastructure (e.g., Biosafety Level-3 laboratories; DNA sequencing suites; Proteomics; Light and Electron Microscopy.) We have designed and are constructing a 140,000 square foot laboratory building, in which we will place research laboratories that concentrate on using the tools of modern molecular biology and biotechnology. Studies that are currently on-going under our approved Plan of Work will benefit from these new laboratories. Such work includes the development of a vaccine for Lyme Disease, a growing health concern of many Rhode Islanders. The research laboratories will also be used by plant scientists and geneticists who are currently 'bioengineering' horticultural and turf crops that are resistant to viruses, weeds and herbicides. This will enable the state's 'Green Industry' (the largest agricultural component in Rhode Island) to grow, thus driving economic development and rural prosperity. The new laboratories will support RIAES researchers who are using biotechnology to build diagnostic tests for diseases of finfish and shellfish and develop molecular-based vaccines to keep fish (fin and shell) free from disease. The new laboratory will also support the Station's bioenergy research in which we are looking to develop transgenic strains of switchgrass that have high biomass yield and improved post-harvest processing.

Rhodes III, Rick
University of Rhode Island
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