BRIT® Kicks Off Construction of Advanced Onsite Molecular and Structural Lab

August 09, 2018

This multi-purpose lab will be used as a plant research and teaching center for Texas universities’ graduate and post-graduate doctorial programs


FORT WORTH, Texas (August 9, 2018) Focused solidly on the future, the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) is taking another big step in realizing its goal of becoming a top-tier plant research and education organization with the construction of a molecular and structural laboratory.

 On August 9, 2018, BRIT board members and supporters will be on hand to celebrate the start of the laboratory’s construction. Named the George C. and Sue W. Sumner Molecular and Structural Laboratory, the facility will house advanced molecular-level tools allowing BRIT’s plant scientists to conduct research and train the next generation of botanists who will answer fundamental questions about plant diversity and help solve environmental challenges.

“This new multi-purpose molecular and structural laboratory adds unique dimension and depth to BRIT’s research and education programs in plant systematics, or the biological classification of plants,” says Dr. Ed Schneider, BRIT’s executive director.  “Our scientists will now be able to study plants at the DNA level comparing species and analyzing how they relate to one another.”

Under educational and research agreements that have been signed with UTA, TCU, and Tarleton State University, the laboratory will also operate as a teaching facility promoting undergraduate, graduate, and Ph.D. programs. University professors and students will work alongside BRIT scientists.

Prospective university-related projects include creating a DNA and genome bank of Texas plant species for conservation, assessing the genetic diversity of rare and endangered Texas plant populations to prevent their extinction, comparing genome diversity in crop plants and their wild relatives for plant breeding, sampling the genomes of plant communities to understand ecosystem functions, and discovering gene function for plant development, disease-resistance, and adaptation.

The BRIT laboratory will also be used on research projects with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department identifying and protecting rare and endangered native Texas plants. Future programs include hosting Fort Worth ISD high school students interested in pursuing STEM-related careers. Through project-based learning, students will gain early exposure to laboratory science learning about DNA and molecular genetics.

“North Texas has gained critical mass in becoming a research hub, capable of sequencing both human and plant genomes,” says Greg Bird, President, Jetta Operating Company, Inc and Board Chairman of BRIT. “Similar to UTA’s North Texas Genome Center, research from BRIT’s botanical molecular lab will allow new discoveries to be made in plants’ evolutionary history, which will no doubt lead to advances in conservation, environmental sciences, and medicine. It could possibly help bring new jobs and companies to the North Texas area.”

Construction is scheduled to take six months. Once complete, the laboratory will bring together botanists, university faculty, and students from around Texas and beyond for collaboration and research. The results generated from the laboratory will be vitally important to the quality of scientific information provided to decision makers, from conservation and land use, to economic and environmental programs.

The lab facility will be located on the first floor of the BRIT building across from BRIT’s herbarium and will feature large windows facing the public space, giving visitors the ability to observe work being conducted by researchers and students.

The Construction Kickoff Ceremony will begin at 3:00 p.m. on August 9, 2018 in the BRIT Atrium II. Join us as BRIT management and city officials explain what is next for BRIT and the North Texas educational and research community at this very special event. BRIT is located at 1700 University Drive inside the BRIT/Fort Worth Botanic Garden campus. The media is welcome.

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