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Yale University Launches Interdisciplinary Biodesign Institute

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — Yale University has launched its Biodesign Institute focused on bringing together cell biologists with engineers for the discovery of systems and design principles uniting living and synthetic materials at the nano-scale.

The institute, to be housed at Yale’s West Campus, will be home initially to laboratories of up to 10 newly hired research scientists. A faculty advisory committee will be appointed to help oversee the institute, which plans to open in early 2012.

Yale has appointed James Rothman director of the institute; he is the Fergus F. Wallace Professor of Biomedical Sciences and chair of the cell biology department at the Yale School of Medicine. T. Kyle Vanderlick, dean of Yale’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, has been named deputy director.

Rothman and Vanderlick will also recruit existing Yale faculty across a variety of disciplines to conduct research at the institute.

The university said the institute’s work will focus on the creation of what Rothman has called "natural machines," or nano-machines capable of tasks ranging from functioning inside cells, to producing materials for tissue engineering, to carrying out programmed tasks as DNA robots.

The Biodesign Institute is one of five cross-disciplinary institutes expected to be hosted at West Campus, which is also envisioned to host three scientific technology core facilities. The campus, acquired from Bayer HealthCare in 2007, consists of 1.6 million square feet of research, office and warehouse space.

"The institute will position Yale to be a world leader in several exciting areas, including the discovery and analysis of cellular nano-machines, synthetic biology, bio-inspired design of active materials and dynamic optical microscopy on the nanoscale," Scott Strobel, vice president for West Campus Planning and Program Development, said in a statement.

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