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CAB History and Overview

The precursor of CAB (Cal Poly Center for Applications in Biotechnology) was the Environmental Biotechnology Institute (EBI) at Cal Poly, founded by Dr. Raul Cano in 1999. For over 10 years, the EBI began critical research and established working partnerships with corporations such as Unocal, Chevron, Xoma, Danisco, and MoBio, as well as many Universities in California, the US and around the world. The EBI's mission was to develop and apply biological tools to address environmental concerns and discover new resources through collaborative interdisciplinary research and education.

Highlights form CAB (EBI)

  • Use of bioremediation to clean up environmental impacts of oil extraction at the Guadalupe Dunes on the Central Coast of CA.
  • Pioneer eco-remediation, introducing using native plants species into the restoration and remediation projects
  • Use of TRFLP, a DNA based technique for tracking microbial communities in soil, water, and other mediums to detect and differentiate bacteria
  • Student research led to a patent to detect genes used by bacteria to eat gases that come from oil deposits used in oil exploration


Since 1999, the use of biotechnology has expanded significantly beyond environmental applications at Cal Poly. In 2011, with the retirement of Dr. Cano, it was appropriate to assess EBI goals and operations. The newly appointed Director, Dr. Chris Kitts along with the Executive Committee wanted to appeal to a broader student and faculty base and also reflect Cal Poly's status as a comprehensive polytechnic university. 

Dr. Kitts and the Executive Committee made the decision to convert the UNOCAL Endowed Chair for Environmental Studies to a Center Endowment, connecting the use of these funds to the operations of the CAB rather than an endowed chair. This created a reliable source of funding independent of the individuals involved in center activities. 

These funds became an early contributor to Center spending as other forms of income were being developed. A Center endowment became easily positioned for a University-level funding campaign as a repository for smaller donations designed to boost student and faculty activities in biotechnology – a "learn by doing" fund and could serve as a magnet for further contributions to Center operations. 

The EBI used the UNOCAL endowment funds to begin construction on a 3000 sq. ft. laboratory space on the fifth floor of the new Center for Science and Mathematics to be completed by August 2013. This space and equipment housed in it will be available to all CAB participants to help foster interdisciplinary research. 

In 2012 it was decided to fully expand from the EBI focus of environmental interests and become an interdisciplinary center, including the name change to CAB. 

The CAB vision – to support research and development of biotechnology on Cal Poly campus, to be a place where students are trained to apply their knowledge and faculty are involved in bringing the fruits of their discipline to benefit their community. 

The CAB mission - to develop and apply biological tools to address human concerns through collaborative interdisciplinary research, and to educate the next generation of biotechnologists. 

The CAB goals include facilitating collaboration across disciplines, providing opportunities for faculty to grow professionally, and providing centralized physical and intellectual resources to faculty and students beyond what an individual department can supply.

CAB Goals

  1. To develop innovative interdisciplinary research programs in support of the CAB mission.
  2. To provide the infrastructure necessary to meet the CAB mission.
  3. To foster the professional growth and development of its members.
  4. To create a forum for scientific exchange, education and interaction.
  5. To enhance education by creating an active learning environment for student-faculty interaction.
  6. To develop partnerships, relationships and opportunities with industry, government and community organizations, and other educational/research institutions.
  7. To communicate with the scientific communities.

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