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Wednesday, August 27, 2003
 
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Beyond the Brick
 
Mission Statement 3: Excellence in Research

Ohio University promotes research through support for creative activity and the search for new information, knowledge and understanding.

Diabetes, obesity and heart disease are prevalent health issues in southeastern Ohio. Around the region, biotechnology companies such as DiAthegen, GeneBact Biotechnologies and Interthyr Corp. are developing diagnostics, therapeutics and drug-delivery mechanisms, while Ohio University researchers Jack Blazyk, Leonard Kohn and John Kopchick study new ways to treat human disease.

David Wight is director of Ohio University's Edison Biotechnology Institute.Ohio University's Edison Biotechnology Institute has found a way to use a National Science Foundation (NSF) program to combine Appalachian health issues, local biotechnology companies and the efforts of Ohio University researchers by creating Partnerships for Innovation. This program represents an effort to foster basic science research, economic development and university-industry alliances.

Ohio University, one of only 19 institutions nationwide to be awarded NSF Partnerships for Innovation funding, has received a three-year, $600,000 grant to support this initiative that will create high-tech jobs, advances in life sciences research and hands-on learning opportunities for students.

"This is an example of how research and economic development can work hand-in-hand," says David Wight, director of the University's Edison Biotechnology Institute and lead author of the grant. "It will allow us to build on a successful history of fostering biotechnology companies in southeastern Ohio and create partnerships between faculty and regional businesses."

This unique program is one of many advancing Ohio University's national prominence in research and creative activity, a reputation that helps to attract additional resources and recruit outstanding faculty and graduate students.

In the first year of the NSF award, the University will partner with three southeastern Ohio companies as part of a two-year plan. The University will hire a full-time postdoctoral researcher or lab technician and a part-time undergraduate student. These positions will be housed at the University but will work on research projects of mutual interest to the University and a local biotechnology company. During the second year, the two staff members will continue to work on the projects but will secure jobs with the corporate partner. Seven partnerships will be funded through the program, resulting in a total investment by the partners of $1.8 million in the regional biotech industry.

"The hope is that the companies will be successful and grow to provide continuing opportunities for those two individuals as well as others," Wight says.

One of the first projects to be funded involves a partnership between GeneBact Biotechnologies in Marietta, Ohio, and faculty in the College of Osteopathic Medicine. The two groups will study a new class of peptides for drug development. Other projects that could receive support include cardiac and diabetes-related research and studies of obesity, all pervasive health issues in southeastern Ohio and Appalachia. The supported studies could result in new diagnostics, therapeutics and drug-delivery mechanisms for human diseases.


Ohio University has a multifaceted mission that combines academics, social and community elements. Much like the enduring bricks that form Ohio University's structural foundation, these elements form the basis for our future as a comprehensive, national university. This is the third in a five-part series revealing how our adherence to Ohio University's mission is influencing the lives of students, faculty and community members inside and outside Ohio University's enduring brick walls.
 
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