Gov. Bill Owen’s proclamation of May 23 as Colorado Biotechnology Day means business as usual for Colorado State University researchers and students.
The state’s land-grant University, Colorado State has been involved in emerging technologies that serve the state’s citizens, agriculture and industry for more than a century.
"Biotechnology is helping define the new economy of the 21st century," said Sen. Wayne Allard of Colorado. "Colorado State University is helping Colorado not only become a leader nationally but internationally in this area.
"The research being conducted at Colorado State will help end world hunger, develop new cures for diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria and will keep Colorado’s economy strong and vibrant for generations to come."
Judson Harper, Colorado State vice president for research and information technology and a member of the Colorado Biotechnology Council, said, "The university has been active in biotechnological research, and we’re pleased to see Governor Owens’ recognition of this field’s importance to the agricultural, industrial and economic well-being of this state. We think his proclamation can help draw attention to the fact that Colorado is becoming a powerhouse for new technologies of all sorts."
The governor’s proclamation points to specific areas in which biotechnology will prove useful-matters that Colorado State is already addressing. Gov. Owens’ addressed the growing importance of biotechnology to research; its centrality in seeking disease cures; its contributions to crop yields and farm productivity; its environmental benefits; its contributions to the state and international economies; and its role as a catalyst in job creation in the 21st century.
- Developing cures for diseases: Colorado State biochemists and molecular biologists are pursuing research into gene regulation and the biophysical chemistry of proteins and nucleic acids. The hoped-for result? Researchers believe cures for Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and muscular dystrophy lie in this direction. In addition, microbiologists are working on vaccines and drugs to cure such re-emerging diseases as tuberculosis and on insect-borne diseases such as the plague. The Animal Cancer Center at the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital conducts research into how to treat and prevent cancer in animals-work that has applications to human cancer.
- Improving farm productivity: Colorado State pioneered HALT!, a breed of wheat resistant to the invading Russian wheat aphid; the application of a food-grade gel to fruit-tree buds to protect them from late frosts; and the improvement of beef cattle by computerized tracking of old-fashioned breeding to insure healthy, meaty results.
- The Animal Reproductive Biology Laboratory has produced the world’s first genetically identical twin foals produced by an embryo that was non-surgically removed, split into two and implanted in surrogate mothers;
- Firecracker, the first "test-tube" horse to be born in this country; an artificial insemination technique that produced the world’s first calves of predetermined sex using sexed semen and the first horse born to a mare artificially inseminated with semen sorted to ensure the offspring was female.
- Improving the environment: researchers are finding biological ways to combat invasive weeds and insect pests, clean up mine-contaminated rivers and streams, conserve and rejuvenate topsoil and reduce the use of pesticides and herbicides.
- The Natural Resources Ecology Laboratory, one of the world’s premier ecosystem research centers, uses integrated, interdisciplinary research to determine the effects of environmental shifts-global warming, urban sprawl, drought, strip mining and air pollution-on ecological systems.
- Contributing to commerce: Many of the biotechnology discoveries at Colorado State, for example the sperm-sorting technique, have been licensed to private companies.
- Acting as a catalyst for jobs: Colorado State teaches life sciences to more than a third of its approximately 23,000 students. Furthermore, not only graduate students but also undergraduates are given opportunities to participate in laboratory research, an important factor in preparing them for biotechnology positions.