January 28-29, 1999

ITEM 102-2004-R0199 Authorization to Establish the Center for the Discovery of Bioactive Compounds; Montana State University-Bozeman

THAT: The Board of Regents of Higher Education authorizes the establishment of the Center for the Discovery of Bioactive Compounds within the College of Letters and Science at Montana State University-Bozeman.

EXPLANATION: Montana State University-Bozeman proposes to establish the Center for the Discovery of Bioactive Compounds in order to take advantage of unique opportunities to enhance the educational, research and outreach missions of the campus. Recent developments have positioned MSU-Bozeman to establish a world-class, multidisciplinary research center encompassing all the elements required for the discovery of new generations of molecular agents for agricultural, medical, and environmental applications - a Center for the Discovery of Bioactive Compounds. Research in this area is essential to meeting the scientific and technological challenges of the twenty-first century; new molecules are needed to combat disease and improve health; to replace compounds against which pathogenic organisms have developed resistance; to sustain and enhance agricultural productivity, to remediate environmental assets; to replace compounds that are detrimental to the environment; and to control alien organisms in ecosystems. These are all areas of substantial national interest and establishing the Center will enhance the competitiveness of MSU students in the global economy and provide great opportunities for partnerships with the private sector.

A fundamental organizing principle of the proposed Center is that important breakthroughs will occur at the intersection of scientific frontiers in synthesis, structural biology, and molecular biology. An additional impetus for the Center is the likelihood that the development of new, useful, bioactive molecules can be stimulated by congruent research in the areas above, along with natural products chemistry and computational methods. Accordingly, the broad aims of the Center are to cultivate faculty and resource development in these core areas, and to foster interactions and collaborations among these areas. Once operational, the Center=s activities will focus on: the isolation of biologically-active compounds from natural sources; the development of new strategies and methods for synthesis of molecules with tailored biological activities; the characterization of the structures and activities of these natural and synthetic compounds; and the structural biology of these compounds as they interact with their protein and nucleic acid targets. The Center will bring together faculty from the departments of Biology, Chemistry & Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Plant Sciences, and will have close ties with the Center for Computational Biology, which was recently established at MSU-Bozeman.

  • The Center will build upon unique assets of the University. With the addition of Dr. Paul Grieco, a world leader in synthetic organic chemistry and natural products chemistry; MSU-Bozeman has achieved national prominence in this core research area of the Center. Furthermore, MSU-Bozeman is currently building a national facility (one of only two, nationally) for the importation and growth of plants and microorganisms from throughout the world. This facility will be a great resource for investigators presently at MSU and a major attraction to others contemplating a move to this campus. Similarly, MSU-Bozeman enjoys a privileged position for research aimed at the discovery and utilization of novel biological resources within the Yellowstone Ecosystem. Finally, we are building a wide-ranging partnership with the Center for Computational Biology.
  • The Center will have immediate potential for catalyzing dramatic improvements in scientific research and training in Montana. The Advisory Board for the Chemistry & Biochemistry Department (composed of leading scientists and executives from the chemical and pharmaceutical industries), as well as several prominent scientists from academe, have strongly endorsed the proposed Center=s mission and plans. They indicated that the growth in the range and impact of research within the Center, and especially the increase in collaborative research, will bring Montana to a new level of research competitiveness.
  • The Center will specifically increase Montana=s research competitiveness in disciplines that have been identified as critical to its economic future. The Center will stimulate and become a focus for research and education in the key field important to biotechnology. These disciplines have already had an enormous impact on agriculture and medicine. Thus, the disciplines have already had an enormous impact on agriculture and medicine. Thus, the work of the Center will help to meet the state=s vision for increasing the productivity and success of agriculture in Montana. It will also stimulate the growth and development of biotechnology as a significant contributor to the economic growth of the state.

The Center will be established and supported by a combination of federal, university, and private-sector funding. Regential authorization will enhance our ability to secure federal funding.

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