BASF Officially Launches the Collaborative Advanced Research Initiative at Harvard University
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. and LUDWIGSHAFEN, Germany, April 29 /PRNewswire/ — BASF today announced the official launch of the BASF Advanced Research Initiative at Harvard University. The Advanced Research Initiative at Harvard University represents an innovative model for university-industry collaboration designed specifically to drive new frontiers of scientific discovery. The opening of the initiative was celebrated with an inaugural two-day Symposium on Biofilms held in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The decisive difference of this collaboration between academia and industry from most research initiatives is its more integrative nature: BASF researchers from Germany are working closely with Harvard academic research teams, easing scientific exchange on the projects, as well as fostering broader interaction between the two institutions. This arrangement also gives the students the opportunity to benefit from a close interaction and early exposure to industry. Harvard faculty will also have the freedom to distribute and publish findings from the initiative, and BASF will have the opportunity to further develop discoveries and innovations for possible commercialization.
Since the BASF Advanced Research Initiative at Harvard University was first announced last fall, 10 postdoctoral students from the United States, France, Italy, Switzerland and China have already started working in Harvard labs on multiple projects. For example, they are studying the interaction between bacteria and surfaces under various conditions and developing new types of surfaces in order to uncover structure-property relationships with respect to the interaction. Another project involves the use of colloidal techniques to develop formulations of pharmaceutical actives with a higher bioavailability. Over the next five years, with direct funding from BASF to reach up to $20 million, the students will pursue further projects in applied physics and mathematics, chemical biology, systems biology, bioengineering and materials science.
While based at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), this highly interdisciplinary initiative will benefit from having strong ties with students, departments and schools throughout the University. In addition, relationships with other research groups at universities, such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, as well as with technology transfer and other companies in New England, have already been established.
“We welcome the opportunity to work in cooperation with one of the world’s most respected and prolific universities,” said Dr. Andreas Kreimeyer, member of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF and Executive Research Director. “Together, we are the right team to harness the innovative potential of new technologies and translate them into commercial successes, while at the same time providing solutions to global challenges.”
“This type of progressive research association with a major industrial leader is a new model for Harvard, and one we hope to emulate and repeat,” said Venkatesh Narayanamurti, Dean, SEAS, John A. and Elizabeth S. Armstrong Professor, and Professor of Physics. “There is tremendous value in this initiative, as it will not only strengthen education and research, but also explore solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems in an effort to better society.”
The two-day Symposium on Biofilms at the Norton’s Woods Conference Center at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge, has brought together leading experts in microbiology, chemistry, physics and materials science, to share their knowledge about the life of biofilms and their interaction with surfaces. George Whitesides, Woodford L. and Ann A. Flowers University Professor, and Co-director of the BASF Advanced Research Initiative at Harvard University, delivered the keynote speech at the symposium.
The study of biofilms and their interaction with surfaces has gained worldwide interest as microbial biofilms on surfaces cause billions of dollars in losses each year in equipment damage, product contamination, and energy losses. More importantly, biofilms also cause medical infections, resulting in adverse and detrimental affect to human life.
In addition to Whitesides, BASF’s Dr. Jens Rieger, Scientific Director of Polymer Research, and Harvard’s David Weitz, Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and Applied Physics, are directing the BASF Advanced Research Initiative at Harvard University and establishing a broad research network of faculty and students to generate new innovations relevant to society’s needs.
BASF is the world’s leading chemical company: The Chemical Company. Its portfolio ranges from oil and gas to chemicals, plastics, performance products, agricultural products and fine chemicals. As a reliable partner BASF helps its customers in virtually all industries to be more successful. With its high-value products and intelligent solutions, BASF plays an important role in finding answers to global challenges such as climate protection, energy efficiency, nutrition and mobility. BASF has more than 95,000 employees and posted sales of almost euro 58 billion in 2007. BASF shares are traded on the stock exchanges in Frankfurt (BAS), London (BFA) and Zurich (AN). Further information on BASF is available on the Internet at http://www.basf.com/.
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