President's Remarks at Bio-Link Italy 2007 Event

Remarks at the Italian Trade Commission Networking Dinner May 7, 2007 Dennis D. Berkey

"Colleghe dall'Itallia, buona sera!" And, special good evenings to:

Ambassador H. E. Giovanni Castellaneta, of Italy;

Liborio Stellino, Consul General of Italy to Boston;

Aniello Musella, Executive Director for the USA, Italian Trade Commission;

Lt. Governor of Massachusetts, Timothy Murray;

State Senators Harriett Chandler and Joan Menard;

Our co-host, Dr. Anthony Garrow, Provost and Vice-Chancellor at U. Mass., Dartmouth;

and other distinguished guests.

As President of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, I am proud to participate with partners in the Italian Trade Commission and the University of Massachusetts in welcoming you to this event, dedicated to building scientific and business relationships between our nations, specifically involving biotech companies, universities and research institutions, venture capital and other investors, and government agencies and officials.

WPI is deeply committed to international collaboration. Over 30 years ago we launched our first off-campus student project center, and we now have more than 20 international project centers, including one in Venice which was founded in 1988 by our own Fabio Carrara, a Venetian graduate of WPI. More than 120 student projects have been completed there, addressing environmental, economic, artistic, cultural, and technical concerns important to the preservation and revitalization of that historic city. We are proud to have distinguished Italian scholars on our faculty, and to have an active research collaboration and student exchanges with Politecnico di Milano.

Collaboration is key to our collective success in moving ideas from the laboratory bench to forms of intellectual property that can yield products and processes of direct benefit to mankind. Our collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Medical School brings WPI's heritage of contributing practical fruits of its engineering, technology, and science programs together with powerful research and clinical programs of this outstanding medical complex.

To better foster such cross-disciplinary collaboration, WPI has developed a new 124,000 square foot Life Science and Bioengineering Center which is about to open in downtown Worcester. This state-of-the-art research facility will house faculty and graduate students from our life science and biomedical engineering departments, located in the building according to commonality of research interests rather than departmental affiliation, and working in such areas as:

  • tissue regeneration and stem cell biology
  • tissue mechanics
  • plant systems
  • nanotechnology and molecular sensors
  • applied molecular genetics, and
  • advanced technologies in biological imaging and sensing.

This facility will also house offices for our Bioengineering Institute, which facilitates interactions with corporate partners and technology transfer; a life sciences business incubator facility of the Massachusetts Biomedical Initiative, or MBI, headed by Kevin O'Sullivan who is with us this evening; a Bio-processing Laboratory developing scalable processes for drug manufacturing; and offices for our Division of Corporate and Professional Education, offering customized training for corporations and their employees in the life science and high technology industries.

This new WPI facility is located in Gateway Park, an eleven acre parcel, formerly a brownfield, and now owned and being developed by a partnership between WPI and the Worcester Business Development Corporation. It is a mixed use, science-based development that will eventually house three additional life science buildings, available to both commercial and non-profit tenants, as well as retail, restaurant, and residential facilities.

In these ways WPI is pleased to promote scientific and technological collaboration, advances in human health, and economic development in a vibrant geographic area of the Commonwealth, blessed with visionary civic leadership brought by our former Mayor and current Lt. Governor Timothy Murray, our City Manager, and our representatives on Beacon Hill. We look forward to increasing degrees of collaboration with colleagues from across the nation and abroad, especially those in Italy, where I fondly remember visiting the historic surgical amphitheatre at the University of Padua, and observing the celebration of the 400th anniversary of Galileo's arrival in Padua from Pisa. (We do understand how seriously you take your science in Italy!)

Enjoy the evening, and "L'Italia per sempre!"

May 7, 2007