After a demanding 20-month schedule and thousands of miles of travel, the last of 37 regional campaigns are over. Between September and November, the final nine kickoff events took place in Baltimore, Wilmington/Philadelphia, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Martinsville, Southwest Virginia/East Tennessee, Farmville, and Charlottesville.
The months of hard work paid off handsomely. Under the direction of G.T. Ward '49, chair of the regional campaign committee, regionals were launched in 13 states by 50 volunteer chairpersons and their committees. In all, 400 individuals contributed their time to ensure the program's success. More than 4,000 potential supporters attended the regional kickoffs, while President Paul Torgersen, Vice President Charles Steger, deans, and development directors made more than 3,000 personal visits to alumni, friends, corporations, and foundations to gain campaign support. With 16 of the 37 regionals exceeding their goals, the campaigns have raised $174 million, topping their total goal by 4 percent.
"An undertaking of this magnitude requires dedicated people to step up and do their part," said Martha O'Neill, director of regional campaigns. "We are very fortunate to have such people. The commitment made by alumni, friends, faculty, and administrators to the regionals was the key to success."
Keck Foundation grant promotes transgenic research
Virginia Tech's leadership role in transgenic research has received a valuable boost with the award of a $500,000 grant to the Fralin Biotechnology Center from the W.M. Keck Foundation. The grant will support on-going primary research in plant molecular biology, eventually leading to the replication of human genes in plants for use in meeting medical, nutritional, and health needs.
The grant is one of the largest one-time awards ever received by the university from a foundation and will be used to create the Keck Facility for Transgenic Plant Analysis. The facility will house highly advanced equipment essential for pursuing research in the production of transgenic plants that one day will yield such medical products as human enzymes, pharmaceuticals, and edible vaccines.
"This very generous grant means we will be able to accelerate our research," says Tracy Wilkins, director of the Fralin Biotechnology Center. "With the state-of-the-art resources of the Keck facility, we can take the next step of targeted research that will complete the picture of how plants can provide a safe and responsive system for manufacturing human gene products and other genetically engineered proteins."
The grant monies will make possible the purchase of a confocal microscope that will provide researchers with a better understanding of how genes function at the cell and tissue level. In addition, grant funds will be used to acquire a molecular imaging system to analyze the presence of genes within cell structures and to provide for a dedicated greenhouse for growing transgenic plants under carefully controlled conditions.
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