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Sharita Forrest, News Bureau
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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. —
The Post Genomic Institute, a cutting-edge facility expected to lead
the nation in biological research, was launched June 5 with a groundbreaking
ceremony on the Urbana campus.
Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich joined University of Illinois President James
J. Stukel, Chancellor Nancy Cantor, PGI Director Harris Lewin, members
of the university board of trustees and state and local officials at
the groundbreaking for the facility, which is expected to put Illinois
at the forefront of modern biological research and foster economic development
in the state.
The $73.5 million institute being built on Gregory Drive in Urbana,
just west of Bevier Hall, will comprise 107,000 square feet of state-of-the
art laboratory, conference and classroom space. The facility will be
designed to support multidisciplinary collaboration among university
scientists and outside partners and to promote technology transfer of
new advances in genomic biology.
"One hundred thirty-five years of leadership in agriculture, chemistry
and life sciences and a half century of groundbreaking work in computing
have prepared us for this moment," Stukel said. "This university
and this campus are unique in their intercession of biotechnology and
computing talent. It is a powerful combination that will be expressed
The institute will fuse the campus’s strengths in biology, engineering,
the humanities and the life sciences to address critical societal issues
in many spheres, Cantor said.
institute is expected to play a pivotal role in the state’s economic
growth by helping launch new industries, creating jobs and attracting
talented researchers and students to the university.
"The mapping of the genome has been described as the most important
scientific event in human history," Blagojevich said. "Today
Illinois is already among the frontrunners in biotechnology research
but we need to be smart about making the most of that head start by
investing now. A research center of this caliber will bring together
the best minds, national funding and cutting-edge facilities at the
University of Illinois. Breaking new ground is what this university
Lawrence Eppley, the chair of the board of trustees; State Rep. Rick
Winkel; State Rep. Naomi Jakobsson and former State Sen. Stan Weaver
were recognized by Blagojevich for their work in bringing the project
Lewin, the institute’s inaugural director, is a pioneering animal
geneticist renowned for his research in comparative mammalian genomics
and immunogenetics. An Illinois faculty member since 1984, Lewin founded
the immunology program in the department of animal sciences. He holds
the prestigious Gutgsell Endowed Chair in the College
of Agricultural Consumer and Environmental Sciences and faculty
appointments in the National Center
for Supercomputing Applications and the Microelectronics
Lewin and other campus leaders will be defining the institute’s
research themes and recruiting faculty members using funding from the
state’s Venture Tech program.
The facility, designed by CUH2A of Chicago, is being funded with state-issued
bonds and is slated for completion in mid-2006.