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Auburn Breaks Ground on $29M Research Center

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Auburn University has broken ground on a $28.8 million research center that will house a range of scientific disciplines including genomics, bioinformatics, water, and ecological research, as well as architecture and forestry studies.

Auburn held a ground-breaking ceremony on Friday for the 84,000 square-foot facility, called the Auburn University Center for Advanced Science, Innovation, and Commerce (CASIC), at the Auburn Technology Park.

The project was funded with $14.4 million in stimulus funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and matching funds from the state, Auburn, and the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station.

The CASIC facilities will house 21 labs including three genomics labs, three labs for predictive biology, two labs for bioproducts, two detection and food safety labs, and four labs for ecosystem health forecasting and marine aquaculture, among others, according to the US Department of Commerce, which runs NIST.

Auburn said yesterday that the genomics and informatics-based technologies developed at CASIC "could attract new businesses and enterprises to Alabama, creating employment opportunities to foster a science-based and technology-driven economy that attracts additional clean and green industry to Alabama."

The Center's predictive biology and informatic forecasting research cluster will apply genome-based research to fundamental issues related to biodiversity ecosystems and development of commercial traits and genetic enhancement of commercially valuable marine species.

Auburn's VP for Research, John Mason, said in a statement that the research will be crucial to the pursuit of the university's strategic research initiatives focused on issues that are important for the state.

"These issues include our focus on cyber systems and security, energy and environment, health sciences and food systems and transportation," Mason said. "To address these critical areas, state-of-the-art research and development laboratories and facilities are essential for encouraging and supporting the high level of interdisciplinary, collaborative projects that will deliver results.

"This new facility will create the environment and provide the infrastructure required to develop, test and implement solutions for these strategic research initiatives," Mason added.

Auburn said that the building's emphasis on renewable energy will help advance the state's green economy and its food safety research will position the state as a hub for new testing, technology development, and training programs.