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U.Va. And Virginia Tech Form Biomedical Institute With Carilion Health System

Nov. 22, 1999 -- Carilion Health System, in partnership with Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia, this week announced what they believe will be a unique biomedical institute.

Launched with an initial $20 million contribution from Carilion, the Carilion Biomedical Institute (CBI) brings together two major public universities with a private 12-hospital network. It is intended to be the catalyst for the development and commercial application of health-related products based on research at the two campuses.

The institute’s goals are to improve the health of individuals worldwide, to create economic development opportunities in western and central Virginia, and to accelerate research discoveries in life sciences, biomedical science and engineering, said Carilion president Thomas L. Robertson.

"As a nonprofit organization long committed to the citizens of our region, Carilion is making this investment as part of our centennial year observance," he said. "We are dedicated to improving the health of the communities we serve."

The universities and Carilion have agreed to raise an additional $10 million for the institute from outside sources within seven years, as the institute moves toward self-sufficiency.

"This institute has the potential to improve healthcare regionally and globally," said U.Va. president John T. Casteen III. "It is a place where we can advance scientific knowledge through interdisciplinary initiatives and new collaborations not previously possible."

CBI will work initially with two research centers, the Medical Automation Research Center at the University of Virginia and the Optical Sciences and Engineering Research Center at Virginia Tech. Applied research centers in these same fields will be located at CBI headquarters in Roanoke, which will include a business incubator and specialized testing equipment. Construction will begin next year.

As university research projects evolve, the institute will facilitate prototype development, conduct testing, position products, and support production and distribution through strategic partnerships.

U.Va.’s Medical Automation Research Center is believed to be the only such university-based group in the world. Its aim is to improve the efficiency and quality of patient care by creating technologies such as Pic & Place, an automatic robot delivery system, and by developing tools to speed the discovery of new drugs and to improve the understanding and treatment of genetic diseases.

"For nearly a decade, patented innovations from the center have been improving the efficiency of treating critically ill patients in hospitals across the United States," said center director Robin Felder.

At Virginia Tech, CBI’s research efforts are in the Optical Sciences and Engineering Research Center, which will investigate advanced laser surgery optics; bio-compatible materials for implants; and diagnostic patches and other diagnostic and drug delivery tools, such as to replace needles for monitoring glucose or administering insulin for people with diabetes.

Dennis G. Fisher has been named president and CEO of the institute. Formerly a Virginia Tech faculty member, he is best known as founder and former director of the ITT Gallium Arsenide Technology Center, now known as GaAsTek, in Roanoke.

Contact: Suzanne Morris, (804) 924-5679; Louise Dudley, (804) 924-1400

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: please contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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