BLACKSBURG, Va., Apr. 21, 2004 -- Congressmen Rick Boucher, D-9th, and Bob Goodlatte, R-6th, were featured speakers at a grand opening for Bioinformatics Facility I, Virginia Bioinformatics Institute’s (VBI) new facility on Virginia Tech's campus. The event was held on Saturday, April 24, at the corner of Washington Street and Duckpond Drive.

Approximately 250 people attended the grand opening for VBI’s new facility – Bioinformatics Facility I. The event drew coverage from a variety of local news outlets, including Roanoke news stations WDBJ 7, WSLS News Channel 10, and Fox 21/27; VTTV, Virginia Tech’s student run television station; the Collegiate Times, Virginia Tech’s student newspaper; and HokiE-News, which features information for Virginia Tech faculty and staff.

The program also featured remarks from Virginia Tech President Charles Steger and Bruno Sobral, executive and scientific director for VBI. Following the ceremony, a ribbon cutting was held for the new facility. Participating in the ribbon cutting were Congressmen Boucher and Goodlatte; President Steger; Bruno Sobral; Jacob Lutz, III, chairman of the VBI Policy Board; Mark McNamee, university provost and vice president for academic affairs; and Minnis Ridenour, executive vice president and chief operating officer. Refreshments followed the ribbon cutting, as well as guided tours of the new 59,000-square-foot facility, which featured presentations on the Institute’s research programs.

Bioinformatics is biologically oriented computer science techniques and technologies that help scientists analyze and understand complex data. At Virginia Tech’s Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI), cutting-edge research is melded with state-of-the-art supercomputers, vast databases and complex software to analyze data that has emerged from advances in biomedical research..

VBI was developed in July 2000 as a shared resource and flagship bioinformatics research institute. The institute's faculty and staff are involved in research collaboration to increase the understanding of molecular, cellular, and environmental interactions that affect human health, agricultural systems, and the environment. By integrating shared resources in the form of experimental and computational laboratories, VBI provides a unique research platform to all stakeholders on a cost-recovery basis.

In three years of operation, VBI’s multidisciplinary research programs have leveraged a contract base of more than $36 million from the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Department of Defense. Research collaborations with IBM, Sun Microsystems, Johns Hopkins University, Incogen, the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, European Media Labs, Beckman Coulter and others highlight the quality of the research.

VBI research is focused on human, crop, and animal diseases with the ultimate goal of improving health.

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Published by Public Relations, April 20, 2004