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UConn experts help launch international
biotech program at German university

Two faculty members have been instrumental in helping Fachhochschule/FH Mannheim, a small university of applied science in Germany, receive a highly competitive DM 1.8 million (about $1.1 million) grant from the German federal government that will in part create a new association with the University of Connecticut.

Thomas Chen, professor and director of the biotechnology center, and Gerhard Austin, professor emeritus of German, served as consultants to the Fachhochschule/FH Mannheim on a grant application to the German government for a proposed international biotechnology program.

Creating such a program meant that the university would need labs and techniques that followed American operation standards. It would also need proper international credit transfer standards and procedures. In both areas, the university turned to UConn professors for help.

Austin, currently president of the Association for German American Business and University Relations (AGABUR), has had extensive experience with international credit transfer through his involvement with the Goethe Institute at UConn. Since 1975, the institute has issued transcripts to nearly 4,000 students participating in courses in Germany and in the United States. He was able to apply his expertise to Mannheim's proposed program.

In October, Chen visited Mannheim's labs and evaluated the program. After providing advice on how to adjust their program so it met the same standards as top-notch American schools, he promised direct cooperation with the German university, permitting an exchange of students and faculty between Mannheim and UConn.

The result: out of 300 schools that applied for the grants, Mannheim was one of only seven recipients.

"This is an impressive accomplishment when you consider some of the competition included such renowned universities as Heidelberg, Munich, and Berlin," said Austin, adding, "The new relationship will also provide opportunities for students here who want an international career.

David Pesci