July 5, 2012–Three research teams from the University of Delaware (UD) and the Fraunhofer Center for Molecular Biotechnology (CMB) shared highlights of their work with Delaware legislators and their staff members in Legislative Hall on June 19.

Two of the highlighted projects are being funded through a six-year partnership agreement that includes UD, CMB and the state of Delaware.

“Our goal was to inform the legislators about the progress of this important partnership and how the field of life sciences is growing in Delaware,” said Karl Steiner, senior associate provost for research development at UD. “The event was also an opportunity to thank those who supported the partnership.”

Kristi Kiick, professor of materials science and engineering and biomedical engineering at UD, is collaborating with Fraunhofer’s Jessica Chichester and Mark Jones on a project to develop and demonstrate the ability of engineered polymer gels to increase the stability, immunogenicity, and/or therapeutic efficacy of proteins.

Jung-Youn Lee, associate professor of plant and soil sciences, is partnering with CMB’s Alex Prokhnevsky to improve the efficiency of “molecular farming” of such pharmaceutically valuable materials as vaccines.

The third project showcased at the open house is supported by the Delaware Bioscience Center for Advanced Technology (CAT), which synergizes efforts among the various life science communities in Delaware and is also funded by the state. Led by Cathy Wu, Edward G. Jefferson Chair of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, the work focuses on bioinformatics, an emerging field where biological and computational disciplines converge.

Some 50 legislators and their staffers turned out for the event, which featured lunch, posters, and an opportunity to chat with the researchers.

“State support facilitates collaborative work that will lead to future projects,” said Alan Levin, who directs the Delaware Economic Development Office and invited the researchers to host the open house.

“Events like this allow our legislators to see what state dollars have enabled in Delaware. This partnership is one small part of biotechnology in the state, and we plan to continue to support it.”

Article by Diane Kukich

Photos by Evan Krape