For Release Upon Receipt - January 30, 1999
Contact: Joan Schwartz, , email@example.com
DEAN OF BOSTON UNIVERSITY'S COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING STEPS DOWN TO HEAD NEW NSF FUNDED PROGRAM IN BIOINFORMATICS
(Boston, Mass.) - Charles DiLisi, an internationally recognized teacher and researcher who has been hailed as the father of the Human Genome Project, will step down as Dean of the College of Engineering at Boston University this year to return to full-time research and teaching.
"During his 9-year tenure as Dean, DiLisi has guided the College through a period of unprecedented growth and development, transforming it into one of the nation's top engineering schools," said Provost Dennis Berkey. "We have initiated a national search to locate a Dean who will build on this remarkable legacy."
A major focus of DeLisi's activity will be to direct the College's new program in Bioinformatics, an interdisciplinary program recently funded by a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation.
"The mapping and sequencing of complete genomes are generating vast amounts of biological information that hold the key to many of the basic processes of life," DiLisi said. "Our goal with the Bioinformatics program is to train individuals both in the biological sciences and in computational sciences so they can effectively organize, synthesize, understand, and apply this information. This program, which promises to help unlock the potential of biotechnology in medicine, agriculture, energy, and the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, demands my full attention."
Under DiLisi's stewardship, the College has undergone dramatic changes, including: Research Funding -- Research funding rose by 369% to more than $18 million annually, including a prestigious Special Opportunity Award from the Whitaker Foundation. Faculty Recruitment -- Recruitment of a world-class faculty -- now nearly 100 strong -- including senior researchers and junior faculty from such insitutions as MIT, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Georgia Tech, Stanford, and Harvard Universities. Student Qualifications -- Test scores of incoming students increased significantly with the average SAT score for entering freshmen rising by 80 poins and the combined GRE scores for entering doctoral students surpassing 1450. Expanding Enrollment -- 63% of the 2,663 master's degrees have been awarded in the last 9 years. There are currently 203 master's students, and 186 PhD. Students enrolled. Diversity -- The number of women in the Ph.D. program increased from 8 to 23 percent (compared to a national average of 15 percent) and the number of women in the undergraduate program grew from 21 to 24 percent (compared with a national average of 20 per cent). More than 29 percent of the student body are members of ethnic minorities. Placement -- The list of undergraduate employers in 1998 includes 58 companies ranging from major multinational corporations to fast-growing startups.
The College also established a number of new Centers including: The Photonics Center, housed in a cutting edge facility and dedicated to creating true business partnerships with industry to develop and commercialize new products and services utilizing light-based technologies; The Fraunhofer Resource Center, Massachusetts, which housed an alliance one of the world's leading manufacturing engineering institutions - the Fraunhofer Geselleschaft - in a facility combining state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment, computer laboratories, video-conferenceing centers and teaching laboratories; The Center for Advanced Biotechnology, headed by Professors Charles Cantor and Cassandra Smith, and dedicated to make clinical, large-scale DNA sequencing a practical and cost-effective diagnostic tool.
DeLisi was honored with an Exceptional Service Award last spring by the Department of Energy for his seminal role in initiating the Human Genome Project. "He was the critical person in getting the program started," said Dr. George Bell, senior fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory. "He stimulated the NIH to take the matter seriously. Without his initiative, the program might never have gotten going. He really made a tremendous difference."
He also recently received the Townsend Harris Medal, a presigious alumni award from the City College of New York. DeLisi was awarded his doctorate in physics from New York University, and later served as a postdoctoral fellow in chemistry and a senior lecturer in engineering and applied science at Yale. He subsequently served as a senior scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and as senior scientist and lab chief at the National Institute of Health.
In 1985 he was appointed Director of the U.S. Department of Energy's Health and Environmental Research Programs where he initiated the Human Genome Project. DeLisi then became department chairman at Mt. Sinai Medical School in New York, where he served until his apppointment as dean of the Boston University College of Engineering and professor of biomedical engineering in 1990.
The Boston University College of Engineering draws on the strengths of the entire university to educate engineers for success in an inherently interdisciplinary world in which engineering concepts play a vital role in understanding biological and environmental systems as well as such fields as information technology, telecommunications, aerospace and manufacturing. It includes departments in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Manufacturing.
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