Gallo's virology institute transferred to the care of UM's Balto. campus Regents, lab agree shift in system to be beneficial

July 11, 1998|By Timothy B. Wheeler | Timothy B. Wheeler,SUN STAFF

ADELPHI -- Pioneering AIDS researcher Robert C. Gallo gained a new academic home for his Institute of Human Virology yesterday, transferring from one branch of the University System of Maryland to another in a move officials said they hoped would help ensure the future of the high-profile laboratory.

During its annual meeting here, the University System Board of Regents approved a transfer of Gallo's institute from the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute to the University of Maryland, Baltimore, which operates the state's medical school and other professional schools.

The transfer comes a few months after the General Assembly cut, and then restored, $1 million in state funds for Gallo's institute. Legislators said they had agreed to subsidize the laboratory to get it started, not permanently fund it. Gallo, with help from Gov. Parris N. Glendening, persuaded them to provide the full $4.5 million.

In restoring the money, legislators insisted that the institute develop a business plan, to be approved by the regents, that lays out future financing and explains the benefits the laboratory provides to the state.

"We all agree that it's in the best interests of the Institute for Human Virology to be part of the University of Maryland, Baltimore," said Lance W. Billingsley, Board of Regents chairman.

Funding questions need to be sorted out, Billingsley said, as well as the institute's relationship to the other professional schools on the downtown Baltimore campus. But the shift "puts its mission in a more focused context," he said.

Mike Goldrich, the virology institute's chief operating officer, agreed the transfer makes sense.

"We're a research institute. [University of Maryland, Baltimore] does research," Goldrich said. "We have a very close relationship through our AIDS, our HIV clinical program, with the hospital."

The institute is physically part of the UMAB campus, Goldrich said, and "half our faculty are already in the School of Medicine." The other half of about 50 faculty members hold appointments with the biotechnology institute.

It was unclear how the transfer would affect the institute's budget. While it will not necessarily save money, Goldrich said, it may attract new funding.

Pub Date: 7/11/98

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