ASU, UA planning major expansion of bio faculty

April 2, 2004

By hammersmith

Plans are in the works to substantially increase bioscience faculty at Arizona State University and the University of Arizona. ASU administrators have said they expect to invest $50 million to recruit star researchers to the Arizona Biodesign Institute, and a UA committee is recommending devoting 100 tenured faculty positions to the biosciences.

ASU President Michael Crow told the Arizona Board of Regents at its March meeting that hiring core faculty for the Biodesign Institute, the university’s new multidisciplinary biosciences unit, would cost $50 million, according to the Arizona Republic. The funds, to come from existing operating funds, bonds, and other sources, would support salaries and lab and office space.

University administrators cite the new paradigm that facilities must be in place before a top recruit will consider relocating. The Republic gave the example of ASU’s $3.8 million proposal to the Arizona Board of Regents in March to build a lab for a prominent microbiologist the university is recruiting. The effort is advancing construction of animal-control facilities at the Biodesign Institute and raising the price tag for the overall structure to $72.8 million from $69 million.

“It’s all about facilities,” said George Poste, director of the Biodesign Institute, in the Republic. “Everyone wants to be fairly compensated, of course, but it really comes down to the facilities and the colleagues.”

In Tucson, a UA faculty committee recommended a plan earlier this week to devote 100 tenured faculty positions to the biosciences, according to reports in Tucson newspapers. The move reflects the university’s plan to implement its portion of Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap, the state’s long-term strategic plan to advance its bioscience sector.

To meet this number, the proposal calls for creating 20-30 new positions, according to the Arizona Daily Star. Filling the remaining spots would entail moving or sharing positions and filling normal vacancies.

The process would take place over six years, the Tucson Citizen reported.

The proposal involves 15 academic departments in the nine areas: cancer therapy, bioengineering, neuroscience, asthma, infectious disease, diabetes, agricultural biotechnology, bioimaging, and biomathematics.

Such a move would help to align UA with the state’s larger plan to concentrate resources on three scientific disciplines: bioengineering, cancer research, and neurological sciences. Arizona has the capacity to become nationally competitive in these areas in the next 3-5 years, according to the Roadmap study led by the Battelle Memorial Institute.

The UA plan will be decided by UA President Peter Likins, Vice President of Research Richard Powell, and Provost George Davis, in conjunction with each of the involved college deans, according to the Citizen.

For more information:

ASU plans lab to lure superstar scientist,” Arizona Republic, 03/30/04

UA wants 100 more biosciences profs,” Tucson Citizen, 03/31/04

UA weighs 100 posts devoted to bioscience,” Arizona Daily Star, 04/01/04