University of Minnesota
BioTechnology Institute
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    BioTechnology Institute
    University of Minnesota
    140 Gortner Labs
    1479 Gortner Avenue
    St. Paul, MN 55108-6106

    612-625-5780 FAX

BTI History

1983-84   1985-86   1987-88   1989-90   1991-92   1993-94  
1995-96   1997-99   2000-01   2002-03   2004-05   2006-09

Touchstone Research

Arnie FredricksonProf. Arnie Fredrickson was one of the founding faculty of BPTI. In his early collaborative work with Prof. H.M. Tsuchiya, who was a microbiologist, he experienced the benefits of interdisciplinary research between engineers and biologists. This was the touchstone of the BPTI - to conduct research at the interface of engineering and biology. Prof. Fredrickson's early work in mathematical modeling of cell populations was seminal for much of today's work in cell population dynamics.

As director in the start-up years, Michael Flickinger had to develop curriculum, hire faculty, raise funds to purchase equipment and lobby the state legislature every two years for a budget. He also initiated the National Institute of Health (NIH) Biotechnology Training Grant which has supported over 100 Ph.D. students since 1990 in their studies at the BioTechnology Institute.

The Masters program in Microbial Engineering was conceived at this time by professors Arnie Fredrickson, Marty Dworkin and Palmer Rogers.

Making Space

Early BRCBPTI labs were located on the second and third floors of Snyder Hall, eventually displacing the teaching laboratories of the Chemistry Department. The central laboratories of the BPTI were developed in the basement of Gortner Laboratory in space which included two undeveloped areas known as the" sand rooms". The offices of BPTI were located in the area that had at one time been occupied by the biochemistry library before its move to the fourth floor of the Biological Sciences Center.

Considerable effort and resources were dedicated to convert the sub-standard space in the basement of Gortner Lab and develop what eventually became known as the Biotechnology Resource Center (BRC), the cornerstone of Biodale. Construction began in 1985, and equipment was gathered and donated in anticipation of this completed central research facility. By 1986, it had become a state-of-the-art laboratory for trying out and scaling up new technologies for bioprocessing.

DCI, Inc., of St. Cloud was one of the first major contributors, donating a 300-liter fermenter to the BPTI pilot plant. Over the years, there have been significant contributions from companies such as ABEC, Inc., Fisher Rosemount, Hosakawa-Bepex and others.


  • Prof. Michael C. Flickinger from National Cancer Institute becomes founding director.

  • Prof. Friedrich Srienc hired as joint appointment: BPTI and Chemical Engineering and Materials Science.

  • Central Research Facility (CRF) construction begins.

  • DCI, Inc., of St. Cloud, MN, donates 300-liter fermenter.

  • Prof. Robert J. Brooker hired as joint appointment: BPTI and Genetics and Cell Biology.

  • State increases annual budget to $900,000.

  • CRF opens for business.