Genetic Engineering Lab to Open in Padua

Science  20 Dec 1996:
Vol. 274, Issue 5295, pp. 2017
DOI: 10.1126/science.274.5295.2017b

A new, international biotech research laboratory with close ties to industry is being established in Padua, Italy. The Laboratory for Advanced Biomedical Research, announced in early December, has already drawn financing from some 40 local businesses, including the clothing company Benetton. One major aim is to develop new gene therapies for diseases.

Ernesto Carafoli, a biochemist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, is slated to become the lab's director. So far, about $10 billion lire ($6.5 million) has been pledged by companies as well as local governments. The lab is to be housed in an old animal vaccine production facility that has been bought by Padua University and will open some time in 1997.

Modeled on organizations such as the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Friederich Miescher Institute in Basel, Switzerland, the lab will be free of the “crippling bureaucratic limitations of public institutions in Italy,” contends Carafoli. Plans are to cultivate international collaborations with a program of joint research doctorates with foreign institutions and contracts with foreign researchers. Other plans include kidney and prostate tumor studies with the U.S. National Cancer Institute and the University of Heidelberg.

And one of its most pressing projects? To convince the controversial Benetton photographer, Oliviero Toscani, to incorporate the DNA spiral in his giant “United Colors” posters.

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