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Bioscience funding set for KU Medical Center

April 9, 2008

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Kansas Bioscience Authority will pump $2 million into an effort to help Kansas University Medical Center attract biomedical startups to the Kansas City metro area.

The authority's board of directors, meeting Tuesday in Wichita, agreed to spend $2 million to help the center match a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce. The $5 million, plus another $1 million from KU, will go toward developing so-called "wet-lab" incubator space for promising bioscience startups.

The work will be expected to help generate 300 jobs and as much as $44 million in private investment, according to the department's Economic Development Administration.

Chad Bettes, a spokesman for the bioscience authority, said such payoffs would help the state continue its work to become a bioscience leader.

"It's another demonstration that Kansas researchers are attracting federal investment and doing the kind of research that will lead to better human health, new jobs and economic growth - all the things that the Kansas Bioscience Authority stands for," Bettes said.

Also Tuesday, authority leaders approved granting up to $911,000 to Via Christi Research and Wichita State University to attract Dr. Paul Wooley to Kansas to create an orthopedic immunogenetic laboratory.

Wooley, the third scientist to receive the authority's eminent scholar designation, plans to study the biocompatibility of composite implants with the goal of developing alternatives to the metal joints used today in knee and hip replacements, which weaken bone mass and often require additional replacements over time.

"The market is screaming for this," said Michael Good, Via Christi Research business operations officer, in a statement. "And the demand is only growing as baby boomers need replacement joints earlier in life, while also living longer lives."

The authority is a $581 million initiative created by the Kansas Economic Growth Act of 2004 to expand the state's world-class research capacity and bioscience clusters, support the growth of bioscience startups, and stimulate bioscience business expansion and attraction.

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