ICBR’s mission is to enable, strengthen and energize all aspects of molecular life science research at the University of Florida by teaching theory, techniques and applications of modern molecular research. We champion the growth and development of research throughout the Florida university system and jump start research for technology transfer and accelerate molecular biology research success from the lab to the marketplace.
The idea for the campus-wide Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research (ICBR) at the University of Florida (UF) was formed in 1985. The idea arose from the realization that the principles and tools of the then new field of biotechnology were applicable to all organisms, ranging from microbes to man. Initiation of the ICBR as a UF Center came under the leadership Dr. Donald Price, then Vice President of Research, and a campus-wide committee of scientists working in biotechnology. Through the efforts of Vice President Price and President Marshall Criser, $2 million/year were obtained from the State of Florida for operation of the Center and the ICBR was officially established in 1987. While the funding came to three separate units of the UF (Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, College of Medicine and College of Liberal Arts & Sciences), control of the funding was centrally located in the Office of Research (formerly Research and Graduate Programs) to reflect the commonality of the principles and tools of biotechnology across all organisms. Professor Thomas O’Brien, Biochemistry, and Professor L. Curtis (Curt) Hannah, Horticultural Sciences, were named the founding co-directors of the ICBR to recognize and empower the interdisciplinary nature of the Center.
The state funding was originally used for three purposes: first, as a seminar series in which world-class leaders in biotechnology were brought to the campus for presentations and extended visits; second, as partial funding for new faculty hires in the area of biotechnology; and third, the bulk of the funding was used to establish world-class core laboratories focused on the tools of biotechnology. These initial core laboratories included DNA synthesis, DNA sequencing, protein analysis and peptide synthesis, flow cytometry and cell sorting, monoclonal antibody development, computation and electron microscopy. Each core was supervised by a faculty member who had a working knowledge of the particular technology. State funds were used primarily for the salaries of the technical staff performing the analyses, creating a collective expertise that continues to be the foundation of ICBR.
Today, the ICBR continues to provide world-class services to a wide range of life science researchers. ICBR also offers learning opportunities for scientists and their students through training to use equipment, seminar series and hosted workshops. Most of the core service laboratories are located centrally, in the Cancer and Genetics Research Complex – a space constructed with support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH.) There are, on average, 58 ICBR staff members, with 22% faculty, 45% full-time staff and 33% postdoctoral associates and temporary or part-time positions. Most ICBR faculty report only to ICBR and do not have competing demands of a home department or tenure and teaching. While much has changed at ICBR in the last 25 years, particularly in the technologies of biotechnology research, the principles of scientific expertise embedded within the dedicated staff remains the foundation of success in enabling the technology of biotechnology research at UF.