Rising Maryland to welcome new biotech president

October 29, 2000

ROCKVILLE, Md.--As support for UMBI's technology is speeding up, the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute will inaugurate its second president with a series of free public events on November 9-10, including a special symposium.

Microbiologist and ecologist Jennie Hunter-Cevera, Ph.D., brings over 20 years of experience in business-academic relations, at a time when international interest is running high to market UMBI's technologies, including preventative AIDS vaccines, urban fish farming methods, poultry vaccines and genomic protein data for advanced drug design.

"Jennie Hunter-Cevera's wealth of knowledge and expertise will help Maryland maintain its stance as a premier center of innovation and growth in the biotech industry," says Maryland Governor Parris N. Glendening.

Maryland is generally recognized as having the nation's third largest biotechnology sector and rapidly expanding, with $1.17 billion investments in private companies, more than 42,000 employees and about 250 companies. (source: non-profit MdBio Inc.). UMBI, with five research and education centers in the Baltimore/Washington corridor, operates on a 1985 state mandate to stimulate economic development in biotechnology.

"I am very proud to say we are now entering a second phase of UMBI's growth, a technology transfer phase," says Hunter-Cevera. "It is very exciting that, after 15 years of solid research results, we are beginning to focus more resources and energy on fulfilling our mandate."Hunter-Cevera replaces founding president Rita R. Colwell, Ph.D., who left UMBI to become director of the National Science Foundation. Colwell will speak at Hunter-Cevera's inauguration along with several other national science and political leaders. Hunter-Cevera was most recently head of the Center for Environmental Biotechnology and director of the Department of Environmental Biology and iochemistry for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), University of California, part of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) national laboratory system. She was also previously with E.R. Squibb in Princeton, NJ; Cetus Corporation in Emeryville, Calif.; and ran a consulting company specializing in biotechnology, agricultural and industrial microbiology, bioremediation and pharmaceuticals.

At UMBI, the large and environmentally fragile Chesapeake Bay watershed serves as a primary research and technology model in marine studies. Researchers find ways to use microbes to bioremediate toxic PCB's, mercury compounds and other hazardous substances in the marine environment, and for developing technologies for control of toxic Pfiesteria and diseases of fin and shellfish.

Also, in her inaugural address on November 10, Hunter-Cevera will announce other UMBI technology advances in commercializing marine fish farming in non-polluting warehouse conditions in Baltimore, a new multi-million dollar grant for developing and implementing AIDS vaccines in developing countries, and discoveries in "proteomics," or protein structure innovations for genomics-era drug design (a logical extension of the Human Genome Project.).

She will also announce a major expansion plan for protein structure and genomics studies at UMBI's Center for Advanced Research in the so-called "Genomic Junction" of Rockville, Md.

The symposium, "Advancing the Frontiers of Biotechnology," will kick off the inaugural festivities on Thursday, November 9, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the University System of Maryland's Shady Grove campus, Rockville. (for directions visit the UMBI inaugural page: www.umbi.umd.edu.) On 2 p.m., Friday, November 10, University System of Maryland Donald Langenberg and USM Board of Regents Chair Nathan Chapman will conduct the official inauguration ceremony at Shady Grove campus. There will be a reception at 3:30 p.m. An Inaugural Gala will then be held at the Marriott Hotel, Inner Harbor in Baltimore from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. The dinner and dancing event will be called "West Coast Meets East Coast" in honor of Dr. Hunter-Cevera's distinguished biotechnology career in California before being selected as the second UMBI president. There is a $35 price for gala tickets. Call 410.385.6305.

University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute

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