GOVERNOR SIGNS LIFE SCIENCES BILL, USHERING IN ‘LIFE SCIENCES MOMENT’ AT UMASS MEDICAL SCHOOL

University of Massachusetts to play key role in 10 year, $1 billion life sciences initiatives; $90 million for Advanced Therapeutics Cluster at UMass Medical School

June 16, 2008

WORCESTER--- In a ceremony in Boston, Governor Deval L. Patrick today signed the $1 billion Life Sciences Bill, heralding a new era in life sciences research, discovery, development and education in the Commonwealth. “We are tremendously pleased by the prominent position that the University of Massachusetts Medical School has assumed in articulating the key role that life sciences research plays in Massachusetts,” said Michael F. Collins, MD, Senior Vice President for the Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts and interim chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. “Moreover, we are privileged by the confidence that the Legislature and the Governor have shown in choosing to invest in the University of Massachusetts, and specifically our academic health sciences center, and we are grateful for all the efforts of the Central Massachusetts Caucus in the Legislature who advocated so effectively on our behalf.” 

Under the terms of the legislation, UMass Medical School will receive $90 million toward a new campus facility that will house the University of Massachusetts Medical School Advanced Therapeutics Cluster, which will launch a new era in research and development, with benefits that promise to be world-changing.

“This is unquestionably the ‘life sciences moment,’ and the University of Massachusetts is uniquely positioned to assist the Commonwealth in furtherance of its competitive position as a global leader in the life sciences,” said Terence R. Flotte, MD, dean of the school of medicine and executive deputy chancellor at UMass Medical School. “Funds invested in our University will impact all regions of the Commonwealth. In fact, there exists with no single entity that is better positioned to realize the potential created by continued investment in the life sciences and the economy of Massachusetts and the region. Our planning for the new campus facility already has begun and has been facilitated by the strategic planning effort that will allow us to move forward efficiently in capitalizing on this unique moment in history.”

Planning for a $449 million Advanced Therapeutics Cluster (ATC) has already begun on the Worcester campus. The facility, scheduled to open in 2012, will provide research space for more than 100 faculty in the life sciences. The ATC will have three integrated research programs: the Gene Therapy Center, RNA-interference (RNAi) Therapeutics Institute and Center for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. The three elements of the ATC are interrelated because they all function at the genetic level of biology, and have different but complementary capabilities for targeting the underlying causes of disease. “Diseases often have complex roots, not just a single genetic mutation. With the Advanced Therapeutics Cluster, we will have the ability to mix and match these technologies and apply them as appropriate for a particular disease,” Flotte said.

About the University of Massachusetts Medical School
The University of Massachusetts Medical School, one of the fastest growing academic health centers in the country, has built a reputation as a world-class research institution, consistently producing noteworthy advances in clinical and basic research.  The Medical School attracts more than $179 million in research funding annually, 80 percent of which comes from federal funding sources. The work of UMMS researcher Craig Mello, PhD, an investigator of the prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), and his colleague Andrew Fire, PhD, then of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, toward the discovery of RNA interference was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and has spawned a new and promising field of research, the global impact of which may prove astounding. UMMS is the academic partner of UMass Memorial Health Care, the largest health care provider in Central Massachusetts. For more information, visit www.umassmed.edu.

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