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New Department of Marine Biotechnology and Institute of Fluorescence at UMBC

Reprinted from MY UMBC, June 21, 2010

From: Freeman Hrabowski, President, and Elliot Hirshman, Provost

We are delighted to announce the formation of the Department of Marine Biotechnology and the Institute of Fluorescence within the College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences. These exciting additions, which stem from the reorganization of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, enhance and expand UMBC's capacity in the campus priority areas of research infrastructure and environment and sustainability. In addition, our students will benefit from wide-ranging educational opportunities within these innovative research programs.

Both groups will continue to be based at the Columbus Center in downtown Baltimore, and USM is transferring budgetary support for associated faculty, staff and operating costs. The Columbus Center houses state-of-the-art research facilities, including a 16,200 m 2 fully-contained, recirculating marine aquaculture facility, a versatile high-volume fermentation facility, a fully functional Biosafety level-three suite and a wide array of advanced molecular and biotechnology instrumentation including digital holographic microscopy.

The Department of Marine Biotechnology (DMB) effectively integrates scientific excellence with education, training and economic development. DMB faculty members include Drs. Yonathan Zohar (Chair), Robert Belas, Keiko Saito, Harold Schreier, Kevin Sowers and Vikram Vakharia. They are internationally recognized scientists and an established group of researchers with complementary expertise and decades of collaborative experience. They bring to UMBC exceptionally strong and integrated programs in such areas as Sustainable Marine Aquaculture, Marine Microbial Biodiversity and Biotechnology and Marine Bioenergy. DMB's Sustainable Marine Aquaculture/Fisheries program has produced an array of patented technologies in biosecure and sustainable seafood production. This work optimizes closed aquaculture systems with zero pollution discharge maintained by microbial nitrogen and carbon transformation processes. In addition, innovative work to develop biosensing, nitrogen processing, and bioremediation technologies to identify, monitor, and remediate pollutants, toxins, and pathogens is an integral part of DMB's research focus. Additional translational research and technologies in the critically important areas of reproductive therapies, compound delivery, and vaccine development also support the development of state-of-the-art aquaculture, as well as healthy and sustainable ecosystems.

The Institute of Fluorescence (IoF) comes to UMBC with an international reputation for advancing fluorescence spectroscopy and plasmonics and breakthrough biomedical applications in health care and diagnostics. Under the leadership of Dr. Chris Geddes, the IoF specializes in the discovery of cutting-edge applications and theory in such areas as Metal-Enhanced Fluorescence, Metal Enhanced Chemiluminescence, and Surface-Plasmon Coupled Phenomenon, which, originally discovered in the IoF, are now used in laboratories around the world. Dr. Geddes and the IoF have developed processes through which fluorescent signatures are amplified millions of times, making it much easier to detect biomarkers for anthrax, salmonella, Chlamydia, diabetes, and heart attacks. The IoF is a leader in translational research with over 60 worldwide patents licensed to industry. The IoF is also home to the majority of peer-reviewed fluorescence journals and book serials, including The Journal of Fluorescence, the popular Annual Reviews in Fluorescence, and the Plasmonics Journal. Dr. Geddes also will hold the position of Professor in UMBC's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

We also are pleased that a number of talented professional and research staff associated with these programs will be joining UMBC. We especially want to thank the administrative staff at the Columbus Center, DMB, and the IoF for their support during this transition.

Join us in welcoming our new colleagues, and we look forward to working with DMB and the IoF on exciting collaborative endeavors.

Pub Date: 2010-06-25 12:00:00











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