Biotech Funding Important, No Matter Who Gets It

Governor Rick Perry announced Friday that Texas A & M will receive $50-million for a new biotechnology institute. Here at home Stephen F. Austin's biotech studies could be envious. Instead program backers are encouraged. "Every time biotech is mentioned or supported means someone is learning more about it. This provides hope for all programs and their future," said Dr. Bea Clack, Director of the SFA Science Research Center.

Just several months ago SFA's biotech research was promoted in Austin by university and Nacogdoches leaders. Their quest is for funding earmarked for biotech development. "We have to make noise. We aren't a major medical center. We aren't a biotech hub or cluster," said Clack.

But Clack and senior level graduate students recognize what SFA is offering. Graduate student Sierra McGarity said, "It's a highly researched based department. All of our classes have very research intensive labs. We have a small faculty, but we have some great projects going on."

Clack added, "We're doing key research all over this campus in agriculture, forest production, the cancer research, education and that's a big component of this fund." Clack is working now to add a biotech undergraduate program at SFA another key component to receiving grants.

An 'Emerging Technology Fund' is currently under development in Texas. The funds will be for centers of excellence in research, workforce and educational training in biotech fields. SFA already meets all that criteria. Dr. Clack pointed out, "In the East Texas area it covers a broad rural range that is in need of economic development."

Its to be expected the states two big educational systems will receive funding, but after that SFA knows it has the key elements for a competitive proposal.