Campus: CSU Hayward -- October 27, 2004

Cal State Hayward Symposium Launches East Bay Biotech Center

The East Bay Biotechnology Center was launched Friday with a California State University, Hayward symposium that brought educators, industry leaders and government officials together to promote work force training in this fast-growing sector.

Cal State Hayward and Assemblywoman Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, co-hosted the daylong meeting titled "Building Momentum for Biotechnology in the Bay Area." The purpose of the event was to foster collaboration between biotech companies and university leaders who will be designing programs and research aimed at job training. The East Bay Biotechnology Center will be housed at the Cal State Hayward campus and operated in partnership with local community colleges and other California State Universities, most likely San Jose, San Francisco, Sacramento and Fresno.

As chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Biotechnology, Corbett has long supported establishing a biotech center in the East Bay.

"I consistently heard first hand from bio-science leaders regarding the critical importance of having a trained work force for this emerging industry, which offers both life-saving innovations and prosperity," Corbett said.

Corbett carried legislation, Assembly Bill 1885, to create the center at Cal State Hayward, which a California State University systemwide initiative had already designated as the location for a Northern California biotech center. Centers already have been established at California State University, Los Angeles and San Diego State University. The state university system is seeking $6 million in federal grants to fund the three centers. No state funds would be used. Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill, but the CSUH project is moving forward.

"Cal State Hayward is fully committed to making the biotechnology center work in conjunction with out sister institutions," CSUH President Norma Rees said at the Friday event.

Matt Gardner, president of BayBio, an industry trade group, pledged his organization's support for the center Friday.

Sunne Wright McPeak, secretary of the state Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, and Victoria Bradshaw, secretary of the Labor and Workforce Development Agency, praised Cal State Hayward for its "trailblazing" effort to promote economic development.

"As you and your colleagues well understand, the biotechnology life sciences industry cluster gives California an economic comparative advantage," they wrote in a letter to President Rees. "It is a key driver for growing California's economy and generating jobs."

Biotech executives, scientists and educators who attended the symposium agreed that today's evolving life science industry needs workers with more field and laboratory experience. Strategies to enhance the hands-on aspect of biotech education include creating more internships with Bay Area companies, lecture opportunities for biotech scientists and an industry advisory board to give input on curriculum development.

Industry leaders who spoke at the symposium included Robert Sakai, technology and trade director for the Economic Development Alliance for Business; Ralph Snodgrass, president and CEO of Vistagen; Brian Lavan, principal scientist of Metabolex; Allen Harman, director of operation of Baxter Bioscience; Jim Cornett, vice president of business development for Medarex; Pat McKay, scientist at Genentech; and Ravi Mistry, director of DiscoverRx.

Michael Leung, dean of the CSUH College of Science, also spoke. Cal State Hayward already has a biotechnology certificate program that has placed more than 220 graduates in private, government and academic laboratories. Since it opened in 1986, the program has added two options. The bioinformatics program, taught in the evening, combines computer science with biological science disciplines. The regulatory affairs program, taught online in conjunction with San Diego State University, has application in the fields of pharmaceutical and medical device development and approval.

California has more than 2,500 biotechnology companies that generate $14.3 billion in annual revenue.

Media Contact: Donna Hemmila, Associate Dir. of Public Affairs, (510) 885-4295

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