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Berkeley Labs Eyeing Second Campus for Bioscience

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is making plans to consolidate some of its bioscience labs, which includes the US Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute, into a new campus that would be located in the Bay Area, and it expects to select the location by early 2012, the lab said yesterday.

The goal of creating a second campus is to pull together some of the lab's bioscience and genomics resources and activities that are currently in leased spaces into one new campus. Berkeley Lab said that the consolidation would cut out the costs associated with the separate leases, enable research collaborations, and provide room for future expansions.

Along with JGI, LBNL is considering relocating its biofuels program, currently in Emeryville, and its life sciences facilities, currently in West Berkeley, to the second campus.

LBNL originally planned to announce the new location sometime late this month but has bumped its timeline back due in part to the large number of proposals. After receiving responses from a total of 20 sites, it narrowed the candidate list down to six: Alameda Point in the city of Alameda; Berkeley Aquatic Park West, located in West Berkeley; Oakland's Brooklyn Basin; Emeryville/Berkeley, which includes properties currently occupied by LBNL; Golden Gate Fields in Berkeley and Albany; and Richmond Field Station, at a site currently owned by the University of California.

"We are deeply grateful for such well-formulated responses, but find that we need a bit more time to fully evaluate our options and to confer with stakeholders in order to arrive at the best possible decision," Berkeley Lab Director Paul Alivisatos said in a statement. "We have a number of excellent options before us. Our goal now is to complete this phase of the process and announce a preferred site as soon as we can."

Discussing the plans and rationale for the second campus in a posting on LBNL's website in July, Alivisatos praised the lab's bioscience resources and suggested that there would be benefits to bringing them together beyond trimming costs.

"Our Joint Genome Institute in Walnut Creek is the most productive sequencing center in the world by nearly every measure," he wrote. "We are making outstanding strides in biofuels at the Joint BioEnergy Institute. Our Life Sciences program, primarily housed on Potter Street in Berkeley, brings the unique abilities of a national lab to areas of human health, and this rich interplay between the energy and health missions is a tremendous source of scientific strength in the biosciences at Berkeley Lab."

"Bringing together the successful but dispersed programs to a new campus also presents a tremendous opportunity for deeper collaboration and stronger Lab community."

JGI conducts sequencing-based research and provides resources through several programs focused on bioenergy, genomic technologies, fungal genomics, metagenomics, microbial genomics, and plant genomics. The institute also offers sequencing services through the community sequencing program, which supports projects directly related to DOE's Office of Biological and Environmental Research's missions in alternative energy, global carbon cycling, and bioremediation.

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