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Bioengineering Institute Gets a Director

As director of the Bioengineering Institute, Tim Gerrity says he will work to make the institute a bridge between the research lab and industry.

WPI's efforts to establish a center for health care research and related economic development moved forward this summer with the arrival of Timothy R. Gerrity, the first director of the university's new Bioengineering Institute (BEI).

Gerrity, who comes to WPI from Georgetown University School of Medicine, previously held positions with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the EPA, among other agencies and medical centers. He heads the four-center institute in Gateway Park, an industrial district near campus that is being redeveloped by a partnership that includes WPI and city and private developers.

He says his role is to oversee the creation of new products and to support new biomedical business initiatives. "The institute will serve as a bridge from the research lab to the advanced manufacturing sector," Gerrity says. "It provides a unique opportunity to integrate academic research with technology development and commercialization."

BEI houses four centers, which conduct applied research in untethered health care, comparative neuroimaging, molecular engineering, and bioprocess and tissue engineering. It resembles the university's Metal Processing Institute (MPI), which has become one of the largest industry-university alliances in North America.

Gerrity holds advanced degrees in physics from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he also has served on the faculty. BEI differs from many other research-commercial models around the country because of its commitment to cultivating business partnerships to pursue applications of its research right from the start.

"We're looking at this as a complete package," Gerrity says. "We're trying to line up all the pieces, with the idea that by doing so we will be able to generate interest early on from the private sector."

The 55-acre Gateway Park is tailored to the growth that BEI anticipates. Gerrity envisions a cluster of bioengineering-related enterprises, including WPI's laboratories, company incubators, startups and small manufacturing firms. He expects the number of Ph.D.-level researchers and postdoctoral graduate students to number in the 60s within 10 years.

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