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Chancellor's Speeches

USM Chancellor William E. Kirwan
GBC / USM Nano-Bio Symposium:
Nano and Biotechnology; A Winning Combination, A New Growth Industry
Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Good morning. I am pleased to be with you for this very exciting event. Today we will be hearing the scientific and engineering perspectives on nano-bio technology from two very distinguished experts. Before hearing from them, however, I wanted to very briefly give an overview of some of the promise nano-bio technology holds in terms of spurring technology-led economic development in the Baltimore region, Maryland, and the nation.

Nanotechnology is poised to be the largest science-based economic development opportunity for the nation, with the current federal and private investment estimated at $3.5 billion a year. Within 15 years, nanotechnology is expected to grow to a $1 trillion global industry, employing 2 million people. But -- and here is a very important point -- only a few regions in world have the government, academic and private infrastructure to successfully capitalize on this opportunity.

The good news is that Baltimore and Maryland can be one of those regions if it integrates its resources strategically and on a particular target: nano-bio technology . . . the convergence of biotechnology with engineering. Advances in the engineering of nanotechnology and the science of biotechnology are merging, in areas such as drug delivery and medical devices, producing both scientific advances and opportunities to develop entire new industries.

Let me stress three critical points:

  • First: Maryland and Baltimore are known for strength in biotechnology and academic medicine. Maryland ranks as the top state in attracting life sciences academic R & D funding. What is not as well known is Maryland also ranks #1 in per capita engineering research and development funding. Nano-bio marries the state's historic strengths in academic medicine and biotechnology with Maryland's emerging engineering strengths.
  • Second: A nano-bio strategy links the historic strengths of the Baltimore region in academic medicine with the biotech and engineering strengths of Maryland's Washington suburbs, a critical and strategic way to link the state's R & D clusters into a 'One Maryland" viewpoint.
  • Third: According to a recent Red Herring magazine survey, Nano-biotech is predicted by venture capitalists to be the first sector to see large scale nanotechnologies in commercial products, medical devices, and drug delivery systems. Last month, a Rockville based nano-bio company just attracted $5 million in venture funding for new drug delivery system.

The exciting fact is that Maryland's location gives it head start in developing a world class nano-bio cluster for several reasons:

First, our federal resources located in Maryland are unmatched.

  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg just opened the world's most advanced nanotechnology laboratory: the Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory. This NIST lab has a strong outreach component to industry and to academia.
  • The FDA, which is building its labs in White Oak, two miles from UM College Park has established the Nanotech Technology Interest Group in which all FDA centers participate. FDA Centers have established multidisciplinary working groups in order to share information and help coordinate the review for the various product types.
  • NIH, NCI, NASA and other Maryland labs have similar nano-bio initiatives underway.

Second, our academic resources are strong.

  • Johns Hopkins University just announced creation of a new Nanobio Technology Center.
  • The University of Maryland, College Park was ranked by the leading nanotechnology trade journal--Small Times--as having the nation's #1 program in nanotechnology research and nanotechnology education.
  • The University of Maryland, Baltimore this November hosted an international conference on nanobio technology and UMBI and UMBC have superb researchers working in these areas, and new UMBI facilities are nearing completion at Shady Grove.
  • The research parks at UMB Bio Park, UMBC, East Baltimore JHU and M Square at UMCP can help translate academic research into products through private sector partnerships.
  • The University of Maryland, College Park is boosting its bio-engineering capabilities and you will be hearing an exciting development about that later this month.
  • Finally, Maryland is home to TEDCO, an extremely valuable asset for promoting the commercialization of intellectual property coming our of our universities and other R&D enterprises.

Third, support for targeted R & D investments is growing, and there is more support for regional initiatives.

  • The Governor's Commission on Advanced Technology Business (Pappas Commission), specifically called for creation of new multi-institutional centers of excellence targeted to developing world-class research focused on specific federal and private funding opportunities in areas of importance to the economic development of Maryland.
  • In June this year, the Governor signed an agreement with the Governor of Virginia and the Mayor of Washington on nanotechnology to create the Chesapeake Nanotechnology Initiative (CNI). Included in the Initiative is a nano-bio subcommittee.

However, other states and regions are investing heavily to become nanotechnology leaders, and Maryland must keep pace.

  • New York has made a $125 million investment in the State University of New York-Albany for a large nanotechnology research and fabrication facility. This funding made it possible for SUNY to attract SEMATECH North, a $190 million research and fabrication facility.
  • Oregon's Nanoscience and Microtechnology Institute (ONAMI), a multiuniversity federal lab consortium, received $21 million from the state of Oregon and a building donation from Hewlett-Packard.

That is why I have been calling for a state investment to help develop and coordinate a focused statewide initiative in nano-bio technology. The University System of Maryland and its research institutions have been planning this initiative and we are seeking support from the state for a $8 million per year investment in a new nano-bio initiative to spur this industry, attract researchers, and develop regional cooperation. We have been toying with the idea of naming the project the Maryland Integrated Nanobiotechnology Initiative, or MINI. While MINI is a relatively small state investment we believe it can pay off for a big impact in Maryland and the Baltimore region: an impact in more science, increased federal dollars in the state, and a way to jump-start the state's nano-bio industry. If we think big, we can succeed in leveraging our existing academic, federal, and private sector resources in tomorrow's technology. After you hear from our panelists, I hope you will agree

Before the introductions, let me again thank the Greater Baltimore Technology Council, the Maryland Technology Council, and the GBC for its support for nano-bio technology.

Now, let me turn to the introductions of the real experts in this exciting area.

Dr. Mauro Ferrari is the Edgar Hendrickson Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Professor of Internal Medicine, Division of Oncology, and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at The Ohio State University. He is also Associate Vice President, Health Sciences Technology and Commercialization and Associate Director of the OSU Dorothy M. Davis Heart and Lung Research Institute. He serves as Special Expert in nanotechnology at the National Cancer Institute. He is a founder of biomedical micro/nanotechnology, especially pertaining to drug delivery, cell transplantation, implantable bioreactors, and other innovative therapeutic modalities. In these fields, he has published approximately one hundred and thirty papers and two books. Andas you will soon seehe is a fascinating and insightful speaker.

William E. Bentley was recently appointed director of the Bioengineering Graduate Program and the Herbert Rabin Distinguished Professor at the A. James Clark School of Engineering. Bentley is a professor of chemical engineering, holding a joint appointment with Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute and University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute. Dr. Bentley's work is internationally recognized and he has received numerous awards, including the Schering-Plough Young Investigator Award from the Society of Industrial Microbiology in 1996, and the Dow Outstanding New Faculty Award from the American Society for Engineering Education in 1995. Dr. Bentley is also a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.

We'll hear first from Professor Ferrari, who will give a national perspective on nano-biotechnology and then from Professor Bentley who will comment on Maryland's capabilities in this exciting new area.