George Mason Shines in the Biotechnology Spotlight

Posted: June 23, 2003 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Patty Snellings

George Mason has reached another milestone in its quest for excellence in biotechnology education and research. For the first time, the university is an active participant at the annual convention of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), which opens today at the Washington Convention Center. “BIO 2003: Thinking Beyond Tomorrow,” the largest international gathering of biotechnology leaders, is expected to attract more than 20,000 attendees from biotechnology, government, and research arenas worldwide.

At the invitation of the Prince William County Department of Economic Development, George Mason, Eli Lilly and Co., and American Type Culture Collection joined the county to showcase the growing potential for biotechnology-based development in the Prince William area. The partners share exhibit space in the Virginia Pavilion at the convention center’s 345,000-square-foot exhibit hall, where almost 1,300 other exhibitors will tout their expertise, products, or services. Gov. Mark Warner is scheduled to tour the pavilion Tuesday afternoon.

“The invitation was the catalyst for George Mason’s decision to play a major role in this high-profile, international event,” says Larry Czarda, vice president for operations at the Prince William Campus. “This leverage of resources is a great opportunity for us all to reap benefits from our collaborative efforts.”

The event continues through Wednesday, June 25, with presentations from government agency administrators and industry executives. Featured speakers include ABC News veteran and cancer survivor Sam Donaldson and actress Teri Garr, who lives with the challenges of multiple sclerosis. Jerry Stackhouse, Washington Wizards guard extraordinaire and founder of the Triple Threat diabetes foundation, appears at fitness clinics.

George Mason’s visibility at the convention is heightened through the participation of faculty members and administrators in workshops and other programs. President Alan Merten attends a dinner tonight with BIO board members, and he and other George Mason administrators were guests of Gov. Warner at a welcome reception held Saturday evening at Mount Vernon. The university also was the focus of a convention-related program held yesterday at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology to encourage national and international collaborations with the National Center for Biodefense.

Because of its location in the nation’s capital, this year’s convention provides a unique opportunity to influence political and government leaders who shape the future of biotechnology through policy and funding issues at the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Congress, and the White House.

Noting that the BIO convention is held each year in a different city around the world, Czarda says George Mason will continue to participate whenever possible. For more information about the university’s role in BIO 2003, call (703) 993-8783.

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