November 4, 2002

U. to Receive State Funds for Life Sciences

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Funding for Cornell’s Life Science Technology Building received a major boost on Friday, as New York state senators announced that the University will receive $25 million from the state’s biotechnology economic development program to construct a facility on Alumni Fields.

New York State Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno (R-43) and Senate members John R. (Randy) Kuhl Jr. (R-52) and James L. Seward (R-50) told the Cornell Board of Trustees during their general meeting on Friday that the University will receive the largest grant from the state’s Gen*NY*sis (Generating Employment Through New York Science) program to fund the building.

“Our Gen*NY*sis program originated right here at Cornell,” Bruno said. “It’s appropriate that Cornell gets the largest grant.”

The single largest building project in Cornell’s history, the Life Science Technology Building, will cost an estimated $110 million to construct and will generate more than 1,000 jobs over the next decade, according to a Cornell news release. As part of the University’s $350 million New Life Sciences Initiative (NLSI), the facility will house research in genomics, computational biology, biomedical engineering, biophysics and nanobiotechnology.

“With this new facility, Cornell’s world-renowned strengths in the physical, chemical, biological and computational sciences will join forces to advance our path-breaking research and instruction in ways that will bring a tremendous benefit to this region and to all of New York state,” said President Hunter R. Rawlings III in a Cornell news release.

Approximately $85 million of funding — the difference between the $110 million estimated cost of construction and the $25 million Gen*NY*sis grant — still needs to be raised for the Life Science Technology Building, according to Henrik N. Dullea ’61, vice president for University relations.

The Gen*NY*sis program, which was initiated by Bruno and New York Gov. George Pataki, provides $225 million to various institutions to stimulate the development of the state’s biotechnology industry. After Gen*NY*sis’ creation, the New York Senate identified Cornell as the recipient of $25 million, the program’s largest single grant sum, according to Dullea.

“The future is truly in the life sciences,” Bruno said. “Not only does [research] improve the quality of life, but it also creates lots of jobs.”

The program’s goal, according to Bruno, is to encourage cooperation among universities, health care facilities, the government and the private sector to stimulate biotechnology and biomedical research as well as to create job opportunities.

“New York has an opportunity to break ahead of other states and take a leadership role in biotechnology and genome research, and Cornell University is well positioned to take New York into these exciting new areas of academic research, high technology and business development,” Seward said in a Cornell news release.

According to Bruno, he was inspired to initiate the program after visiting the University’s College of Veterinary Medicine a few years ago, when Rawlings and others informed him of the importance of the life sciences.

“Gen*NY*sis truly had its genesis at Cornell,” Bruno said.

Providing the University with such a large grant sum comes at a time when the state has decreased funding for statutory colleges due to budgetary constraints over the last several years.

The difference between the grant sum and other statutory funding is that the grant money, which will fund capital costs, will come from bonds, whereas the day-to-day operation costs of the statutory colleges requires hard cash, which comes from tax revenue, according to Dullea.

Other institutions that will receive funding for genomics research from the program include the State University of New York at Albany and SUNY Stonybrook, according to Bruno.

Other components of Cornell’s NLSI, which Rawlings and Provost Biddy (Carolyn A.) Martin announced in May, includes the construction of Duffield Hall and the reconstruction of the Engineering Quad.

Archived article by Stephanie Hankin