Governor Proposes $2.4 Million to Fund USM Nano-Bio Research in FY 2009

ADELPHI, Md. (January 17, 2008) - Governor Martin O'Malley has proposed $2.4 million in the FY 2009 state budget to continue funding of nano-biotechnology research across the University System of Maryland (USM). Since 2006, a little known state fund-the Nano Bio Fund-has been nurturing Maryland's "small scale" revolution by providing seed money for faculty recruitment, equipment, and research that integrates the fields of nanotechnology and biotechnology. The fund is administered through a partnership of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) and USM.

Governor O'Malley said that the fund is "advancing the potential of the healing sciences" in the state. "Thank you for what you do," he told the legislators and USM researchers, faculty, and administrators who gathered in Annapolis for the announcement on January 15. In addition, Governor O'Malley announced his continued investment in bio-tech, maintaining $23 million in funding for stem cell research, $6 million for Biotechnology Investment Tax Credits, and $5 million to continue development of the East Baltimore Biotechnology Park.

"Maryland can be a global leader in nano-biotechnology," said USM Chancellor William E. Kirwan. "We have a unique concentration of strength in the two areas that combine to create this field-medical science and engineering. With outstanding medical schools at Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and leading engineering schools, no state can match the concentration of scientific talent in nano-biotechnology that we have here."

Nariman Farvardin, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost of the University of Maryland, College Park, commented that the Nano Bio Fund is a force of economic growth, bringing more research money into the state and helping to start new commercial enterprises in nano-biotechnology.

"As a result of the Nano Bio Fund, our researchers have submitted 33 proposals to external agencies for a total of $16 million in grants," he said. "When we started this fund, we promised the state a three-to-one return on its investment. I think it will be closer to 16-to-one as more grant and research money pour into the state in the coming years."

Established by the State of Maryland in FY 2007, the Nano Bio Fund has provided to date a total $4.9 million for 11 research projects at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP); University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC); University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute (UMBI); and the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB).

The fund, which is overseen by the Maryland NanoCenter at UMCP's A. James Clark School of Engineering, is leveraging its state support and has stimulated additional outside research grants. In 2006, the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation gave more than $1 million to fund a cross-disciplinary group of researchers from the Clark School, UMBI, and the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy working to develop a nanoscale biochip that will serve as a tiny drug discovery laboratory.

Nano-biotechnology unites the field of nanotechnology-engineering devices and materials at the level of molecules and atoms-with fields such as medical diagnosis, pharmaceutical development and delivery, environmental science, and biodefense to create new "smart" materials and technologies that can work at the microscopic scale of a cell or smaller. Nano-biotechnology promises to make medical cures and therapies more "tailored" and targeted to patients' needs; early detection and prevention of disease more precise; and the monitoring and remediation of environmental toxins more effective.

"Venture analysts believe the first broad applications of nanotechnology technologies and products will likely come in the medical field," said Brian Darmody, USM's special assistant vice chancellor for technology development. "Maryland is well-suited to capitalize on this sector, given the large academic health centers in Baltimore and the strong engineering and nanotechnology programs and resources at College Park, UMBC, the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, and the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda."

For more information about nano-biotechnological research across USM, visit the following sites:

Center for Nanomedicine and Cellular Delivery at University of Maryland, Baltimore

Medical Biotechnology Center at University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute

Maryland NanoCenter at University of Maryland, College Park


Contact: John Buettner
Phone: 301.445.2719