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Virginia Tech launches corporate partners program in biological sciences


BLACKSBURG, Va., Nov. 27, 2007 – Virginia Tech's Department of Biological Sciences in the university's College of Science, has launched a corporate partners program to foster collaboration between faculty, students and bio-science oriented corporations in the mid-Atlantic region. The so-named Biological Sciences Partners in Research and Education (BioSPIRE) program is designed to engage companies with an interest and capacity to impact education in the biological sciences.

“With the marketplace continuing to invest in biotechnology and other biologically related products and services, it is essential for companies and education institutions to work together to develop tomorrow’s leaders and maintain a strong economy in the region” said Robert Jones, head of the university’s Department of Biological Sciences.

The program will include scholarships to enhance diversity in the undergraduate student population and to support undergraduate research projects and other kinds of hands-on learning and training experiences. Corporate partners will also provide feedback on university curricula to better match teaching and learning with the demands college graduates are currently facing.

“The ultimate goal is to build a strong pipeline of well-trained and diverse individuals who will be the creative, critical thinkers, and leaders in bioscience industries,” Jones said.

Representatives from several key bio-science industries participated in the planning and official launch of the program. These included Merck, Novozymes Biologicals, Revivicor, and Pfizer Sales.

“With more and more baby boomers retiring or looking toward retirement, we have ever-expanding market opportunities for products and services that rely on biological sciences,” said Tim Howland, director of corporate relations in the College of Science.

The Department of Biological Sciences has a reputation for attracting high-level academic achievers. The department has the largest scientific student base on campus, averaging 1,400 majors. A majority of these students want to be doctors, veterinarians, or other health science professionals.

“We want to partner with bio-science oriented corporations to provide better prepared professionals entering the workforce,” Howland said. “This program will be mutually beneficial.”

BioSPIRE will host two annual events—a Fall Partners Day and a Spring Research Symposium. The next scheduled event is the Department of Biological Sciences Research Day, to be held Feb. 23. For more information, contact Howland at thowland@vt.edu or (540) 231-8739.

The College of Science at Virginia Tech gives students a comprehensive foundation in the scientific method. Outstanding faculty members teach courses and conduct research in biology, chemistry, economics, geosciences, mathematics, physics, psychology, and statistics. The college is dedicated to fostering a research intensive environment and offers programs in many cutting edge areas, including those in nanotechnology, biological sciences, information theory and science, and supports the university’s research initiatives through the Institute for Critical Technologies and Applied Sciences, and the Institute for Biomedical and Public Health Sciences. The College of Science also houses programs in intellectual property law and pre-medicine.