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June 5, 2003

Governor breaks ground on innovative genome institute
New facility launches Illinois to the forefront of biological research

CHAMPAIGN – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today helped mark the start of a major development project at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign that will put Illinois at the forefront of modern biological research.  The governor was joined by university officials, area legislators and leading scientists at the groundbreaking for the new Post Genomic Institute.


“Today we’re launching Illinois to the front of the race to capitalize on the potential of bio-technology,” said Blagojevich.  “The research conducted here at the Post Genome Institute will lead to important advances in every area of science and spark much-needed economic development in Illinois.”


The entire $75 million project is being funded with state issued bonds.


The facility’s 107,000 square feet of advanced laboratory, classroom and conference space will be designed to foster collaboration among university researchers and outside partners specializing in genomic biology. 


Seven research themes have been established that will address significant problems facing the nation, such as providing safe and nutritious food for an expanding population, combating bioterrorism, and making possible the biological treatment of toxic wastes. Each thematic research area will be housed in a “thematic module” providing common laboratory facilities for biologists, chemists, physicists, bioengineers, and bioinformation scientists.  A core infrastructure will provide faculty, students and staff in the seven research themes with shared, state-of-the-art instrumentation and support facilities.


Beyond providing a highly advanced educational facility for U of I genomic biology students, the new institute will provide Illinois a foundation for economic growth and job creation in the emerging field of genomic biology.  Genomic research will lead to licenses and patents that will be the basis for new businesses and industries in the future.


“We’re very excited to receive the state’s strong support enabling us to turn an innovative concept into a reality here at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign,” said Nancy Cantor, Chancellor of the Urbana-Champaign campus.  “This is just the beginning.  In years to come we’ll watch as ideas hatched at this research and education institute revolutionize every aspect of our lives.” 


The institute will house 35 faculty; 350 students, post-doctoral researchers and technicians; and 15 administrative and support personnel.  The federal government and private industry will underwrite the research done at the Post Genome Institute.


Post genomic research focuses on the functions of thousands of genes, and how they work together to create functioning cells, tissues and organisms. New discoveries about how cells work are leading to critical advances in a wide range of areas, including food and agriculture, animal and human health, renewable energies and bio-fuels, environmental protection, and the fight against bio-terrorism.


“A lot of people worked very hard to help the University of Illinois create this revolutionary research facility,” said the governor. “I’d like to give special thanks to the current and former legislators from Champaign and Urbana who convinced state officials of the long-term benefits we’ll reap from investing in genomic research – former state Senator Stan Weaver, his successor Rick Winkel and State Representative Naomi Jakobsson.”


Construction is expected to begin in November 2003 with completion in the winter of 2005-06.         


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