Collaborative power of 5

The BIO5 Institute at the University of Arizona (UA) was launched in 2001 with financial support generated by the Technology and Research Initiative Fund (TRIF), a special investment in higher education made possible by the passage of Proposition 301 by Arizona voters in November 2000. This tax was intended to expand major efforts in biomedicine and biotechnology in the state. 

Funding for the Thomas W. Keating Bioresearch Building that houses BIO5 was generated primarily through Arizona House Bill 2529 and from a private philanthropic gift from Thomas W. Keating. 

BIO5 aims to harness the collaborative power of our five core disciplines – Agriculture, Engineering, Medicine, Pharmacy, and Science - to find bold solutions to complex, biology-based challenges affecting humanity: How do we prevent, treat, and cure diseases? How do we address the many environmental issues we face? How do we feed a hungry planet?

Watch our video on the collective power of '5' in BIO5


New drug interventions are needed to biologically alter disease processes within individuals in increasingly individualized and targeted ways. New drugs are developed in a variety of old and new ways--some derived from natural products and others synthesized in the laboratory by chemists. Translational researchers must work with clinicians and regulatory agencies to ensure the safety and efficacy of new drugs. 

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Scientific inquiry is fundamental to understanding basic and complex biological processes. Different points of view are needed to understand these processes as the basis for all life. For example, the basic structure of most cells is the same in humans, animals, and plants, and the molecular machinery within the cell has many processes that are similar to those within increasingly complex organisms. The convergence of disciplines within the life sciences is a natural outcome of this foundational focus.

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Public health and medical experts focus on preserving health and diagnosing disease. Not only is an understanding of basic science important, but physicians and public health experts must understand the psychological, social, and physical environments of their respective patients and populations as well.

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Faster, targeted, and less invasive diagnostic technology and treatment delivery methods are the realm of bioengineers, who are steeped in both engineering and biological processes. Bioengineers and other scientists are working to identify who is susceptible to a particular disease at the earliest possible age, diagnosing it at the earliest possible stage, and delivering targeted treatments that do not affect surrounding cells and tissues.

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Researchers studying plants and those who study human disease have much in common. Understanding the biological processes in plants can inform human studies and vice versa. For example, discoveries in plant genetics can result in a greater understanding of the genetic basis of disease, as well as more nutritious foods, heartier crops, and new plant-based pharmaceuticals.

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20+ colleges and departments

Driven by the original BIO5 inspiration of excellence, hundreds of researchers from over 20 colleges and departments across the UA work together to advance the pace of scientific discovery and tackle our world's critical biological challenges.The Technology and Research Initiative Fund (TRIF) funding that helped launch BIO5 continues to be a catalyst in establishing major initiatives which provide a return on investment to the people of Arizona: innovative research efforts that will improve health and save lives, and an entrepreneurial culture with scientists working across disciplines to accelerate commercial translation of research breakthroughs.

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BIO5 brings together geneticists, biochemists, biophysicists, statisticians, engineers, computer scientists, and mathematicians in a flexible and interactive way that leads to individual creativity, intellectual curiosity, learning networks, and cooperative research. BIO5 researchers develop and commercialize new technologies, diagnostics, and treatments, and have formed 25 spinouts companies in the last eight years.


Excellence begins with education. BIO5 is committed to impacting the next generation of scientists by supporting K-12 teachers, developing innovative high-school internship programs, training undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral students, providing industry internships, and facilitating a learning environment where students work side-by-side with top scientists in BIO5 labs.


By thinking about challenges in new ways- and removing the confines of conventional science- researchers gather knowledge and translate new discoveries to the marketplace, ultimately resulting in bold solutions that will change and save lives. It takes collaborative teams to develop targeted cancer drugs, understand the factors that contribute to Alzheimer’s disease, prevent and work towards cures for asthma and diabetes, develop healthier crops, and create more nutritious food.


The BIO5 Institute in the Thomas W. Keating Bioresearch Building boasts 177,000 square feet of state-of-the-art space where researchers and scientists interact, discover, analyze, and invent. The building sets a new standard in flexible design that promotes collaboration and facilitates the intellectual confluence of diverse disciplines.