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Peter Fox, Richard Hagstrom, Steven Crouch, David Metzen, and Bob Bruininks stand next to two ceremonial checks from Microsoft.

Peter Fox (Microsoft), Richard Hagstrom (class action counsel), IT dean Steven Crouch, Regent David Metzen, and President Bob Bruininks stand next to the ceremonial checks from Microsoft.

U receives $5 million, announces new bioinformatics initiative

By David Ruth, University News Service

Published on March 11, 2005

The University of Minnesota today received $5 million from Microsoft Corp. at a ceremonial check presentation in the McNamara Alumni Center. The payment comes from the April 2004 settlement agreement of an antitrust class action lawsuit the State of Minnesota had brought against Microsoft Corp. The University was not a plaintiff in the case.

As part of the settlement, the University received $2.5 million in cash and $2.5 million in product vouchers to be used by the University's Institute of Technology (IT).

President Bob Bruininks, addressing the Board of Regents, unveiled a new initiative, the Consortium for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (CBCB), which will be funded with the settlement money and $5 million in matching funds from the University.

"Biomedical areas are making major advances, and they promise breakthrough contributions to health, safety and prosperity," said Bruininks. "While the University has excellent researchers and equipment in relevant fields, we do not have as many as will be needed, and they are insufficiently coordinated. The CBCB will compensate for this and enable us to carry out the research that is required."

CBCB will become the focus of the University's data handling and computational services for bioinformatics and computational biology, as well as provide leadership in theoretical biology and the computational science of biology.

The CBCB will be headquartered in the U's Digital Technology Center and will operate for the benefit of all the collegiate units of the University. It will be managed by the cooperating colleges that put up matching resources for the consortium.

The consortium comprises nine colleges on the Twin Cities campus, plus the University of Minnesota, Duluth. The colleges are: IT; Medical School; College of Biological Sciences; College of Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Sciences; School of Pharmacy; School of Veterinary Medicine; School of Dentistry; School of Public Health; and College of Natural Resources.

The consortium will be an umbrella organization for coordinating existing activities in bioinformatics and computational biology at the University. It will also strengthen existing efforts by adding five new faculty dedicated to the field--a senior person who will serve as director of CBCB and provide intellectual and managerial leadership, and four entry-level assistant professors.

"In addition, money from the Microsoft settlement will be used to support two research associates and two systems administrators for five years, after which time they will be supported by the consortium," said Steven Crouch, dean of IT. "The CBCB will allow the University of Minnesota to achieve a prominent position in an exciting and enormously important new discipline. We intend to make the most of this opportunity."

A committee made of the consortium members will begin looking for the first director shortly.