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Closed Nutley research facility donates instruments, supplies to Stevens

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The Biotechnology and Drug-Discovery Laboratory that opened this month at Stevens Institute of Technology was outfitted with instruments and supplies donated by the Nutley-based Hoffman-La Roche Inc. research facility the company closed at the end of last year.

Seven former Roche scientists joined Stevens, including three senior researchers with more than 90 years of combined corporate R&D experience hired as visiting professors.

Dr. Peter Tolias, professor and director of the Center for Healthcare Innovation at Stevens, said in addition to its educational role for Stevens students and faculty, the new lab will be a resource for the regional biotechnology industry.

The lab will work with "academic researchers and also biotechs in the area who want to have access to a biotech and early drug discovery laboratory," he said. For example, if a biotech company "has a therapeutic protein they want synthesized and purified so they can do pre-clinical experiments to assess it as a drug, then they could produce that here."

The lab can also provide biotechs with a range of services, from fee-for-service projects to active research collaborations, Tolias said.

Stevens used a portion of a state Department of Labor grant to renovate the new 2,000 square foot lab.
Tolias said the hardware from Roche includes state of the art equipment for tissue culture work, purification equipment to purify therapeutic proteins, robotic screening systems to do target robotic drug screening and various systems to perform detailed assays. "If you were to buy it new you would be spending probably well over $2 million."

"The opportunity here is that this is a new local resource for the biotechnology and early drug discovery community to use, especially the several hundred biotechs that are in this area. They now have an opportunity to collaborate or outsource, so it provides quite a new opportunity," he said.

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