The University at Albany’s East Campus was acquired in February 1996. Located in the Town of Rensselaer on the Columbia Turnpike (Routes 9 & 20), the acquisition of East Campus was one of then Interim President Karen R. Hitchcock’s earliest initiatives to strengthen the scientific capabilities of the University. Purchase of the 50 acre former site of the Sterling Winthrop Company was financed by the University at Albany Foundation with $4,000,000 in funds from New York State. The East Campus facility has 370,000 square feet of laboratories, office space, and conference facilities. In the fall of 1996, the School of Public Health occupied the 102,000 sq. ft. main office complex which, in November, was named in honor of Edward S. and Frances Gildea George, two New York State College For Teachers graduates (Class of 1938) and major donors to the University. In 2000 New York State provided $1.3 million to purchase an additional 29 acres for the East Campus.
In addition to providing a home for the University’s School of Public Health, the East Campus was also intended to house bio-technology start-up companies. On September 21, 2000, a second facility, the Senator Joseph L. Bruno Biotechnology Development Center, was named in honor of the New York State Senate Majority Leader's strong support of funding for the East Campus. The Bruno Biotechnology Development Center is located at the Albany Molecular Research Facility on the East Campus.