Biotechnology: Baltimore's Future

June 04, 1994

At two ends of the downtown area, key elements of this city's future are taking shape. On the eastern side of the Inner Harbor, the dramatic Christopher Columbus Center for Marine Biotechnology has grabbed all the headlines. But on the western end, near Martin Luther King Boulevard, stands a more traditional structure in progress that promises as much or more immediate impact on this region's economic viability: the University of Maryland's Medical Biotechnology Center.

When this $54 million complex opens in two years, it could become a generator of new jobs and new industries. There aren't many other places like it in this country.

Under one roof, interdisciplinary research will be conducted by scientists and physicians from the university's faculty and from the private sector. The goal: stimulate the brain-power needed to spur new discoveries in molecular biology, cell signaling, genetics and a host of medical areas.

But that's not where the center's job ends. It also will house all sorts of laboratories and support facilities for start-up companies to begin developing commercially viable medical devices and products. The power of the university will be harnessed to the power of the entrepreneurial spirit. All under one roof.

The impact of this center could be rapid and immense, with biomedical businesses sprouting all over the Baltimore-Washington region. Maryland is, after all, a hotbed of medical centers, stretching from the Johns Hopkins Hospital to the National Institutes of Health. The biotechnology complex will be the only place where academics and corporate manufacturers will be able to work in such close contact to produce results.

Developing a burgeoning life-sciences industry is of prime importance if Baltimore is to enjoy a vibrant future. The Columbus Center is sure to draw world-renowned scientists to the city to be on the cutting edge of advances in marine biotechnology. But the biomedical component of scientific inquiry promises a much faster payoff. That's where the new Medical Biotechnology Center comes in. It could serve as a vital economic engine for 21st-century Maryland.

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