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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UA hopes to see piece of donation pie

    Bioscience administrators and researchers hope the university will see a substantial portion of the $100 million donation recently given to the state for bioscience research, sources said.

    A Scottsdale-based charitable organization, Stardust Foundation, donated $100 million to bioscience research last week.

    Keith Joiner, dean of the College of Medicine, reacted favorably to last week’s donation.

    “”We view this $100 million as part of a large pie that we’ll very much be a part of,”” Joiner said. “”We see this as the quintessential win-win situation.””

    Joiner said the nature of the UA’s research makes it an ideal candidate for a portion of the funds.

    “”We are the unquestioned leaders in the state for biomedical research,”” Joiner said. “”That can do nothing but benefit us when we are advocating for those funds.””

    The Virginia D. Piper Charitable Trust made a similar donation of $50 million in January, and the Arizona legislature is currently debating House Bill 2477, which will provide an additional $150 million to bioscience research, boosting the total amount to $300 million.

    “”With this initiative, I truly believe that we have the potential to bring solid economic opportunity to the state,”” said House Speaker Jim Weiers. “”I am so excited about the innovative technologies Arizona can bring to the world. The facts in front of us tell me this is a good business venture for

    Arizona.””

    UA’s BIO5 Institute, which encourages applicable scientific advancements, is also excited at the prospect of the funds.

    “”Aÿ$300 millionÿcommitment toÿArizona biosciences is very exciting,”” said Vicki Chandler, director of BIO5. “”Itÿwill help us realize the goals established inÿthe Arizona Bioscience Roadmap, which is a 10-year planÿtoÿfast-track the growth of theÿbioscience sector ofÿour economy.””

    Chandler said the research institute will try to get its share of the funds.

    “”BIO5’s programsÿare closely aligned with the Roadmap, and I am confident that we willÿbe competitive inÿobtainingÿsome of the new funds,”” Chandler said.

    Having the extra funds could mean more research projects and ease the burden of finding a way to pay for future projects, said Mark Riley, an associate professor in the agricultural and biosystems engineering department.

    “”One of the goals is translation,”” Riley said. “”It’s like saying, ‘Let’s do things that will benefit people.'””

    Riley said one of the best examples of applicable research benefiting the public is the story of chemists developing Gatorade for the University of Florida football team.

    “”A lot of universities are looking to find those ideas that can translate out,”” Riley said.

    The $100 million will be donated to Science Foundation Arizona, a nonprofit organization that will distribute the money.

    Science Foundation Arizona was founded two weeks ago with the purpose of enhancing Arizona’s scientific, medical and engineering research fields, said Ron Shoopman, president of the Southern Arizona Research Council, a group that was instrumental in the founding of Science Foundation Arizona.

    Shoopman said Tucson and the UA can expect to see a sizable chunk of the donated funds.

    “”We are fairly confident that a significant number will come to southern Arizona,”” Shoopman said.

    The Science Foundation Arizona board will determine who gets the money, and the money will be distributed based on where it will do the most good, Shoopman said.

    Shoopman said he didn’t know exactly when the funds will begin to be distributed, but said he expects it will take the board six months before they reach the first decision.

    Robert Leonard, department head of plant sciences, said he didn’t know how much of the money his department would end up with, but was certain any boost in funds would be a great asset.

    “”Money like that used in research results in a number of high-tech jobs for people in the Tucson area,”” Leonard said. “”I’m certain some of the faculty in plant sciences would benefit greatly.””

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