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  April 28, 2003

Biology/Physics Building To Be Dedicated

The newly completed 111,000 square-foot Biology/Physics Building will be dedicated on Friday, May 9 with an 11 a.m. ceremony and an academic symposium titled "Brave New World: Biology in the 21st Century."

The dedication ceremony will officially open the building, which houses offices and labs for faculty in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology; greenhouses; and more than 125,000 biological specimens, including birds, mammals, fish, parasites, and vascular plants. Laboratories and a laser facility for the Department of Physics are still under construction. Also housed in the building is the new electron microscopy facility. The building connects on the ground level to the Gant Science Complex.

Built with UConn 2000 money, the building is part of UConn's transformation, says President Philip E. Austin. "It is buildings like these that are helping us attract and retain high-achieving students and outstanding faculty. They, in turn, perform advanced research that not only expands basic science but also contributes to the strength of Connecticut's economy."

The tallest building on the Storrs campus at 110 feet, the Biology/ Physics Building clusters research programs with overlapping interests, and features an atrium with a glass wall overlooking a mini-arboretum.

"The building is not only functional but also beautiful," says Philip Yeagle, professor and head of molecular and cell biology. "It has laboratories that are a joy to work in, space that permits collaboration with colleagues, and places filled with art and light to hold discussions with students."

Well-suited for small to medium-sized professional meetings, the building also houses a soaring five-story mosaic by Jun Kaneko, a native of Nagoya, Japan. Kaneko has completed a number of public commissions at such locations as the McCormick Center in Chicago and the Detroit People Mover, but the UConn work is his largest to date.

The dedication ceremony will be followed by a reception at 11:45 a.m., and tours of the building beginning at 12:30 p.m.

The symposium, which starts at 1:30 p.m., will feature Nobel Laureate Phillip A. Sharp, institute professor and founding director of The McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Center for Cancer Research, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Sharp, co-founder of Biogen and Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, has focused his research on the molecular biology of gene expression relevant to cancer and the mechanisms of RNA splicing. His landmark achievement was the discovery of RNA splicing in 1977. This work provided one of the first indications of the startling phenomenon of "discontinuous genes" in mammalian cells and opened an entirely new area in molecular biology. Sharp shared the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Richard Roberts, who did work in parallel at Cold Spring Harbor.

Also featured at the symposium will be Jesse Summers, professor of molecular genetics and microbiology at the School of Medicine of the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center. Summers is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and studies hepadnaviruses, including the virus that causes hepatitis B in humans, known as BBV.

Philip I. Marcus, professor of biology and interim director of the Biotech/Bioservices Center, is chair of the symposium, which is supported in part by the Dr. Edward A. Khairallah Fund for Scholarship, in memory of a former faculty member.

If you would like to attend the dedication, reception, or symposium, please RSVP to University Events at 806.486.1038.

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