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GRI Marks Impressive First Year of Growth and Recognition
Published December 2004
With just one building left to renovate and only six labs remaining to fill, the Genome Research Institute (GRI) is becoming a force to be reckoned with in the quest for international leadership in disease research and drug discovery.
Comprising seven buildings totaling 360,000 square feet, the GRI marked its one-year anniversary in October. UC predicted it would create nearly 400 new jobs, and already about 350 people have been hired.
Home to the pharmaceutical experience of Procter & Gamble and the biological expertise of UC, the GRI set out to recruit only the best. In fact, says GRI Director David Millhorn, PhD, he only considers candidates who are being pursued by other top-rank institutions.
This was the case when the GRI recruited George Thomas, PhD, from the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research in Basel, Switzerland. Dr. Thomas earned international renown when his team identified a mouse enzyme that could help explain why people become more prone to developing diabetes in middle age. That same enzyme, if blocked, also might help prevent obesity.
Dr. Thomas will join the GRI shortly to continue his research into cancer and metabolic disorders.
"Dr. Thomas is one of the top cell biologists in the world," says Dr. Millhorn. "And he chose UC."
In addition to Procter & Gamble, GRI partners include Wright State University, the Air Force Research Laboratory, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Meridian Bioscience, Girindus America and Acero--with the possibility of new partners in 2005.
While these partnerships present new possibilities for research and development, they also come with challenges, Dr. Millhorn says.
Since private industry and academic institutions have very contrasting cultures, Dr. Millhorn is working closely with his colleagues, employing both interactive meetings and social events, to ensure that his new team molds into a cohesive unit for collaboration and discovery.
The state has already rewarded the GRI for its commitment to shared knowledge and job creation. In 2002, the GRI received $9 million from the Biomedical Research and Technology Transfer (BRTT) Commission's Partnership Award Program to promote current relationships. In 2003, the GRI hosted the Cincinnati "lighting" of the Third Frontier Network, a fiber-optic loop that will share information among institutions throughout Ohio.
Dr. Millhorn stresses the importance of building UC's reputation as the biotech center in the Midwest, "so we can attract talent and companies to the region."
Top scientists are drawn to the GRI not only by the opportunity to work in stimulating partnerships in first-class facilities, but also by Cincinnati's quality of life and cost of living.