UMass Amherst Allocates $250,000 for Biomedical, Biotech Projects in Springfield

AMHERST, Mass. - The University of Massachusetts has allocated $250,000 for two projects in its ongoing partnership with the city of Springfield. Some $210,000 will provide additional funding for the existing biomedical research program between UMass and Baystate Medical Center. Another $40,000 will be used by the University''s Center for Economic Development to study how to attract biotechnology firms to Springfield.

"I am pleased to announce the University''s allocation of funds in support of this further collaboration between the campus and the city of Springfield," says Chancellor David K. Scott. Scott credited state Rep. Dennis Murphy and state Sen. Linda Melconian, both of Springfield, for bringing the University/Springfield partnership to the full attention of the Legislature, which, he says, "endorses our continuing efforts to strengthen these ties in the future."

"Springfield is ideally located to attract companies in the emerging biotechnology industry," says Mayor Michael Albano, "and this is a very positive first step in that direction."

"The presence of a vibrant biomedical research program in western Massachusetts," says Frank Cannon, director of the University''s biotechnology program, "will create an environment conducive to the growth of biotechnology and biomedical device-manufacturing in the Springfield area."

The collaborative biomedical research program is designed to fosterthe integration of clinical and basic research at both UMass and Baystate Medical Center. The program facilitates new research opportunities, provides unique training for graduate students and resident physicians, and offers a graduate-level course in molecular medicine. The budget allocation, says Warren Foote, director of medical research at Baystate, "will be used to provide seed funding for research projects in areas such as cancer, endocrine, and neurologic diseases, in which faculty at Baystate and UMass are joint investigators." Foote and Cannon co-chair the program''s oversight committee.

Given the resources of both the University and Baystate Medical Center, says John Mullin, director of the Center for Economic Development at UMass, there is a "tremendous opportunity here" for Springfield and the region to become a prime location for the biotechnology industry. Mullin will conduct a study that will identify the city''s and the region''s strengths and weaknesses in attracting biotech firms, analyzing such factors as zoning, infrastructure, labor needs, and economic issues. A strategic plan outlining the steps necessary to attract biotechnology to the city and the region will also be developed. "It''s our objective," says Mullin, "to help Springfield put its best foot forward."