HudsonAlpha to host DNA Day

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The Huntsville Times

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Institute marks anniversary with tours, speakers

On the first anniversary of its grand opening, the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology will commemorate Cancer Awareness Week, signifying what it hopes it will one day do: Produce the kind of research that can lead to a cure for the disease.

The institute, which houses 14 private biotech research firms, will host DNA Day on Friday, a time that students and the public can come tour the facility in Cummings Research Park as well as extract DNA from strawberries and listen to an overview of its first year in business.

Tours will be offered every 15 minutes, beginning at 1 p.m. and concluding at 4 p.m. HudsonAlpha Institute director Dr. Rick Myers – who formerly headed up the genomics lab at Stanford University – will speak at 2 p.m., and no tours will be given during his speech.

The center is a $130 million project, including $50 million in state money and $80 million in private investment, led by Jim Hudson and Lonnie McMillian. The nonprofit research side employs more than 120 people; the combined work force of the private companies and the research center is expected to exceed 900 in coming years.

Holly Ralston, communications director for the institute, said more than 1,000 people attended DNA Day last year at the grand opening.

"They just kept coming and coming and coming," she said. There’s no way to know how many will show up at this year’s event, "but we’ll be ready for them."

A virtual lab created by Digital Radiance, which uses video game technology to create Web-based, threedimensional science education tools, will be introduced. During the next school year, the virtual lab will be available for free to schools in Alabama.

By Patricia McCarter
Times Staff Writer