Former UMBI Institutes Launch July 1 as Newly Aligned Research Centers at Partner USM Campuses
(July 1, 2010) - Research centers previously aligned with the former
University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute (UMBI) officially begin their
realignment today with other institutions within the University System of
restructuring, approved by the USM Board of Regents in June 2009, is expected
to pave the way for more multi-disciplinary and collaborative research across
the system and increase access to outside funding for research. It is also
expected to yield a higher level of technology transfer, commercialization, and
business start-ups, and thereby advance economic development statewide.
action followed the recommendations of an ad hoc committee of regents appointed
by Board Chairman Clifford Kendall in February 2009 to review UMBI's mission
and organization as well as consider alternative organization options.
is a summary of the newly created centers, once based at the former UMBI.
for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research (IBBR). The IBBR is a research collaboration
among the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP), the University of
Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), and the National Institute of Standards and
Technology (NIST). The IBBR will build upon the resources and strengths of
the former Center for Advance Research in Biotechnology (CARB) at the Universities
at Shady Grove (USG, one of the USM's two system-wide regional centers) and
the former Center for Biosystems Research (CBR) at UMCP.
Under IBBR's inaugural director, Donald L. Nuss, Ph.D., the
center will focus predominantly on three complementary research areas:
nanobiotechnology, drug and vaccine discovery, and pathobiology (the study of
disease processes). UMCP will have administrative responsibility for the joint
research center. The center will be headquartered at USG.
- Institute of Marine and
Environmental Technology (IMET). IMET is a joint USM research
center at which the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC); the
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES); and UMB
will share facilities and resources. The partner institutions will
collaboratively advance research and create technologies for the
protection and restoration of marine systems and watersheds, sustainable
use of their resources, and improvement of human health. Yoni
Zohar, Ph.D., a UMBC faculty member, will serve as IMET interim director.
Russell Hill, Ph.D., an UMCES faculty member, will serve as IMET interim
associate director. The center will be based at the Columbus Center in
downtown Baltimore at the former Center of Marine Biotechnology (COMB).
Biotechnology Center (MBC) at UMB. The
is affiliated with the UMB campus, home of the University of Maryland
School Of Medicine. The center's research will include health-related
aspects of molecular biology and biotechnology, molecular medicine, and
molecular genetics. In addition, research here will be enhanced by
collaboration with the bioengineering and computational faculty at UMCP.
W. Jonathan Lederer, M.D., Ph.D., a professor in the School of Medicine,
will serve as interim director. The center will be based at the UMB
- Institute of Fluorescence (IOF). UMBC
will have administrative responsibility for this former UMBI institute. Research
is centered on the development of new leading-edge and existing
fluorescence phenomena to resolve clinically, biologically and
industrially important questions, such as technologies to facilitate early
and rapid detection of bio-warfare agents. The institute will be based at
the Columbus Center in downtown Baltimore. Chris D. Geddes, Ph.D., will
serve as director.
University Center for STEM Excellence. The center's main goal
is to provide statewide leadership in supporting the USM's STEM (science,
technology, engineering, mathematics) initiatives. This center will
integrate Towson University's STEM education programs to establish the
Baltimore Excellence in STEM Teaching (BEST) program. It will be based at
the Columbus Center in downtown Baltimore.
a focus on collaboration--across disciplines and across institutions--and with
recognition of the exceptional talent within the UMBI community and the system's
other institutions, this action positions USM to take fuller advantage of its
system-wide strengths in the biosciences and to fuel the state's knowledge
economy even more," said Kendall, the board chair.
A subcommittee of
regents in 2009 reviewed UMBI's history and structure. It also solicited the
views of individuals and groups, including UMBI administrators, faculty, staff,
and graduate students; members of the UMBI Board of Visitors; external
scientists and administrators from higher education and government; and
representatives from business and economic development organizations.
As a result of its
comprehensive review, the committee found that "the organization of UMBI
as a geographically dispersed, free-standing entity has created intractable problems."
These included the lack of scale of UMBI programs, isolation among UMBI's
research centers, lack of a critical mass of graduate and undergraduate
students involved in UMBI research, and administrative inefficiencies.
board directed the USM office to complete the restructuring by June 30, 2010,
the end of the 2010 fiscal year. The regents charged USM Chancellor William
"Brit" Kirwan to work with the UMBI center directors and the appropriate
institutional presidents on memoranda of understanding (MOUs) outlining details
of the future operations and collaborations. The chancellor presented the MOUs
to the board as they were negotiated during the fiscal year. The first approval
occurred in October 2009 and all MOUs were approved by February 2010.
launch of these realigned centers provides a tremendous opportunity for the
University System of Maryland to increase the volume and impact of its basic
and applied research in the biosciences," Kirwan said. "This
restructuring has the potential to double the research productivity of UMBI's
current assets within five years. Once these assets are joined with activities
system-wide, USM will play an even greater role in positioning the State of
Maryland as a national and international leader in the biosciences."
Contact: Mike Lurie