Letter to the Mason community:
Yesterday, we took a major step towards our goal of becoming one of the nation’s top research universities: We launched the Institute for Advanced Biomedical Research and announced the naming of our campus in Prince William County as the George Mason University Science and Technology Campus.
The Institute will bring under one roof researchers from a number of disciplines focusing on technologies, diagnostics and therapies targeting some of the most complex and pervasive diseases of our time. The Institute will be guided by the translational mission to bring solutions to market, thus maximizing their impact in human health and creating economic opportunity for Virginia.
The new name of our campus signals a strategic repositioning of our presence in Prince William County, from regional satellite, to hub of advanced science and technology and engine of innovation. The “Science and Technology” name accurately reflects the groundbreaking research that already is being done and highlights the new kinds of research and educational programs being developed.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe joined us for this important moment, toured the facility and gave an inspiring speech to about 200 people that truly captured the significance of the day. He declared it a “great day for Virginia,” underlined the critical role that the Science and Technology campus will play in creating a new Virginia economy and underscored how the Institute is “the only place on the globe” where several of our lines of research are taking place.
As the largest public research university in the state, we are strategically positioned to be at the forefront of biomedical research. We have a world-class faculty across departments. We have world-class facilities. We are in the vicinity of the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Science Foundation and other national and international agencies. We are surrounded by excellent hospitals and health care groups with whom we have a history of collaboration. The Science and Technology Campus already is the anchor of Innovation Park, a budding economic development hotbed for our region.
With the opening yesterday of a $40 million, 75,000-square-foot home for the Institute for Advanced Biomedical Research, we are in a position to attract even more of the brightest minds from around the world. That means more ideas and discoveries that will spin off new companies, draw in established ones and engage many that are rooted in the region. And it means more chances to find cures for devastating diseases, from HIV, malaria and Ebola to cancer, Lyme, Alzheimer’s and concussions. College of Science Dean Peggy Agouris summed up the work of the Institute with this inspiring quote: “I think of this building as our Pentagon in our war against disease.”
It’s no secret that Virginia has lagged nationally in the biosciences, a reality that we are committed to reversing. Gov. McAuliffe is right to make the life sciences a pillar of what he calls the “new Virginia economy,” one less reliant on shrinking federal dollars and more poised to define the future of health and medicine, a high-growth industry. As he said yesterday, “This is a kickoff for us to take us to the next level, because these are the jobs of the future. We can create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the bioscience space. And the good news here at George Mason, you actually are out front, taking a leadership role on that.”
The Institute also illustrates how much more we can do as a university by working together than we can by working alone, a point often made by Provost Wu. I applaud Deans Agouris, Ball, Ginsberg and Prohaska for proving that point by bringing together the resources of their respective colleges under one shared mission.
This is a substantial step forward for our university, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the well-being of patients around the world.