In Spokane, a biotech scramble

Spokane’s Gonzaga University may be most widely recognized for its nationally ranked men’s basketball team, but the private liberal arts school is aggressively positioning itself to be prominent in another field: Biotechnology research.

For more than a year, the Jesuit-run university has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from donors, launched a recruiting drive for researchers and worked with genome pioneer Leroy Hood to establish a biotech research center. Gonzaga leaders envision an institute of systems biology, tapping into Gonzaga’s computer engineering program and spinning out research that can lead to potentially life-saving medical products by private companies.

But Gonzaga isn’t the only university in Eastern Washington banking on a future as a leader in life sciences. Researchers at Washington State University’s Riverpoint campus in Spokane already are doing federally funded genetic research in areas such as eye disease, autism and Down’s syndrome.

WSU officials say their branch Spokane campus is better suited to help greater Spokane fully reap the economic potential from life sciences research and manufacturing, especially in the development of medical devices.

Greg Lamm
Staff Writer

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