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Biotechnology Public Interest Forum Kicks Off March 10

In an effort to increase engagement with the public, surrounding business community, and Rensselaer community in the life-saving and high-tech research ongoing at the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS) at Rensselaer, a series of regular open sessions with Rensselaer researchers will begin on March 10. The first forum, “Making Medications Safer,” will begin with a light breakfast outside the CBIS Auditorium at 8 a.m. The new series will be called the Biotechnology Public Interest Forums.

“CBIS stands among the foremost biotechnology research facilities in the world, but up to now there have been very limited opportunities for the community at large to experience the important discoveries of the center and learn about the life-saving work within our walls,” said CBIS Director and the Howard P. Isermann ’42 Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering Jonathan Dordick.

“Our researchers and laboratories can serve as an exceptional source for information on the important medical and technological issues we currently face as a society, as well as a driver for economic growth and public engagement,” Dordick added. “We welcome all to learn more about what we are looking to do at CBIS during the forums.”

Dordick will be joined by President Shirley Ann Jackson to introduce the first session, with fellow CBIS researchers Robert Linhardt and Angel Garcia. The forum will begin at 8:30 a.m., following the breakfast.

The program will include a brief introduction by each researcher on their work to make medications around the world safer for patients. Their remarks will be followed by a discussion led by CBIS Director of Operations Glenn Monastersky, with ample opportunity for questions and interaction with the audience. Tours of the building will be available to all interested guests following the forum.

Linhardt is the Ann and John H. Broadbent Jr. ’59 Senior Constellation Professor of Biocatalysis and Metabolic Engineering at Rensselaer. Linhardt, who was named in 2009 as one of the “Scientific American 10” for his lifesaving work, is among the world’s foremost experts on the commonly used blood thinner heparin. His research has helped make the currently available heparin safer for patients and is leading the effort to create a safer alternative to the current heparin.

Garcia is a Senior Constellation Professor for Biocomputation and Bioinformatics at Rensselaer. His research uses high-powered computing tools to analyze biological data. This work helps researchers make predictions on a range of biological processes including how different drugs or drug ingredients will heal or harm human tissue and cells.

Future forum topics that are being planned include: Alzheimer’s research, stem cell research, nanotechnology in biotechnology, targeting cancer, and drug discovery.

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 5, Number 4, March 4, 2011
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