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Pfizer and UConn to build major animal vaccine research center to prevent animal diseases (Released: 3/5/98)

Office of University Communications.

Storrs, Conn. -- The University of Connecticut and Pfizer Inc. today announced a major new alliance to create the "Center for Excellence in Animal Vaccine Research" at UConn for innovative animal vaccines.

The collaboration represents a dramatic expansion of a relationship between Pfizer, a research-based global health care company, and UConn, the state’s only public research university and a leader in agricultural and animal vaccine research.

The new partnership is expected to lead to breakthroughs in the prevention of livestock diseases that compromise food safety, endanger farm animal welfare, and increase agricultural animal production costs.

"A strong and expanding Connecticut economy naturally gives way to innovative partnerships like the one being announced today between the University of Connecticut and Pfizer," said Governor John G. Rowland. "This collaborative effort provides testimony that public private partnerships work in Connecticut. This mutually beneficial and cost effective strategic alliance will help Connecticut by contributing to an educational experience that prepares students for a range of high tech jobs in the state. It will also lead to imaginative and cutting-edge solutions to research issues at Pfizer and position UConn researchers to acquire significant levels of additional research funding from external agencies."

Under the terms of the agreement, the University will lease land to Pfizer for 35 years and the company will construct a $19 million, 60,000 square foot building on the Storrs campus with mixed office and animal health research space. Pfizer will lease 20 percent of the building back to UConn for University research programs. The company will pay taxes to the Town of Mansfield on the 80 percent of the building and equipment it uses.

"The creation of this center for excellence in Animal Vaccine Research and the opportunity to discover important new vaccines and scientific knowledge to prevent diseases will attract the world’s top virologists to Connecticut, home to our research and development headquarters," said George M. Milne, Jr., president of Pfizer Central Research.

"We are excited by the opportunity to create a unique and powerful center for vaccine research in the state by joining the strengths of Pfizer, a leader in the discovery and development of innovative medicines, with those of UConn, known for pre-eminent vaccine research," Milne said.

The partnership builds on the roots of both UConn, founded as an agricultural school in 1881, and the state’s Land Grant University, and Pfizer, which has had research and development headquarters in Groton, Conn. since 1959. The collaboration’s new facilities will enhance the University’s ability to educate and train students, conduct research and attract research grants.

"This collaboration is an important step forward in our work with the state’s business community to advance Connecticut’s economic development," said UConn President Philip E. Austin. "This is a vital part of a land grant university’s mission, and as we approach the 21st century, implementing that mission has to take new and innovative forms. Equally significant from our perspective," he said, "is the fact that this partnership helps us build a center for excellence in one of our areas of natural strength. Pfizer is an international leader in pharmaceutical research and I am gratified, though by no means surprised, by their eagerness to work with us in this endeavor."

The project highlights the University's ability to partner with private industry to both further the economy of our state and to provide exceptional educational and research opportunities to our students and graduates, said Mark A. Emmert, UConn chancellor. "The collaboration will be very attractive to the University in terms of recruiting and retaining outstanding students and faculty, and will attract research grants.

"Great universities of the 21st century will be engaged in path-breaking research in targeted areas of excellence. This collaboration provides unique educational opportunities for students which include direct access to cutting edge research and to the faculty engaged in it. These opportunities translate to experience that makes students exceptionally marketable job seekers and valuable professionals. UConn’s collaboration with Pfizer in this unique

public-private partnership is absolutely consistent with our objectives," said Emmert.

The research building, to be located on East Campus near the Kellogg Dairy Barn, will house cattle, swine, goats and sheep. The facility, which will be managed by the University, will be used for research and development of novel approaches to vaccine discovery.

Pfizer Central Research, with major research facilities in Groton, Conn.; Sandwich England, Amboise, France; Nagoya, Japan; and Terre Haute, Ind.; is the principal pharmaceutics and animal health research and development arm of Pfizer. Pfizer Inc is a research-based health care company with global operations.

In 1997, the company reported sales of approximately $12.5 billion and invested $1.9 billion on research and development.

The University of Connecticut, with its main campus in Storrs, five regional campuses, a School of Law in Hartford and School of Social Work in West Hartford, and a Health Center in Farmington, is the state’s only public research university. U.S. News and World Report recently ranked UConn the best public university in New England, and among the top 20 of the 146 public universities in the nation.