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UB selected to co-lead state efforts to position New York as national leader in genome research

by jmaloni

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Wed, Jan 8th 2014 11:40 pm

As a premier research university with world-class capacity in life sciences research, innovation and analytics, the University at Buffalo is uniquely positioned to help New York state become a national leader in genomic medicine and advance new ways to treat, prevent and manage serious disease.

As announced today during Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's State of the State address, UB will partner with the recently opened New York Genome Center in Manhattan to accelerate recent advances in genomic medicine directly into clinical care.

The initiative is modeled after the governor's successful blueprint for nanotechnology innovation in Albany, which has produced groundbreaking research, attracted significant private investment to the region and created thousands of new jobs.

The governor's investment in UB and NYGC is expected to spur the development of companies on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus that support genomic medicine, such as companies that will focus on diagnostics and information technology essential to breakthroughs in personalized medicine. 

To be successful, genomic medicine requires the analysis of large amounts of information, also known as "big data."

UB's blend of expertise in medical research, life sciences innovation and high-performance computing is key to this effort, and will provide NYCG, a consortium of 16 educational and research organizations, with the expertise and supercomputing power to advance genomic medicine throughout the state.

The New York Genome Center will begin to test new methodologies for the application of genomic medicine in hospitals in New York City. The information generated will be analyzed and stored at the Genome Center in the short term. When it comes to large data storage needs and complex analytics requiring the use of high-performance computing, the resources will be provided by the UB's Center for Computational Research in Buffalo. As more and more patients are treated, all information will be stored at UB.

"This important effort draws on many of our greatest assets as a premier research university - including our outstanding faculty, our reputation as a powerhouse in life sciences research and our considerable strength in supercomputing and medical information technology. With this trifecta of resources, UB is an ideal partner to transform medical diagnosis and treatment," said UB President Satish K. Tripathi.

"We are grateful for Gov. Cuomo's continued support of the University at Buffalo and his recognition of UB as a national leader in the emerging field of big data genomics, and we're poised to help make his vision for Buffalo and New York state a reality."

UB was selected as co-lead for effort because of its expertise in high-performance computing, combined with recognized national leadership in genomics and medical research and analysis of patient data using the vast capabilities within its Center for Computational Excellence, New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, and Institute for Healthcare Informatics. Each of these UB research centers reside on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

Leveraging UB's faculty research in biomedical sciences, as well as the expertise of partner institutions and firms in Buffalo and throughout the state, the initiative has the potential to usher in a new era of personalized medicine, leading to breakthrough treatments in serious diseases, ranging from diabetes, to heart disease and Parkinson's disease. Genomic medicine should also improve doctors' ability to identify individuals at risk of disease.

As part of the effort, UB will receive $50 million - the money will come from Cuomo's Buffalo billion-dollar commitment - to build out additional capacity at UB, especially at its Center for Computational Research. The governor's investment in UB builds on other significant investments from the state to support the growth of UB's biomedical research and supercomputing strengths.

The governor's investment in UB and NYGC is expected to spur the development of related companies that support genomic medicine, such as diagnostics and information technology that will help grow the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. 

"The governor's 'Buffalo Billion' commitment focuses on creating transformative next-generation jobs and industries in Western New York, and his commitment to genomic medicine speaks directly to our regional strategy for growth by leveraging the assets of our local institutions," said Howard A. Zemsky, managing partner of Larkin Development Group and co-chair of the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council.

"Investing in UB's world-class Center for Computational Research and its partners supports the data needs of so many Western New York companies and researchers, and furthers the personalized medicine initiatives that position the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus at the forefront of health and life sciences."

Five companies already will begin benefiting from the partnership, gaining access to the research and supercomputing resources, and in turn will contribute to creation of new approaches to personalized medicine, diagnostics and technologies created in Western New York. The companies are:

•Computer Task Group - a Buffalo-based information technology solutions firm with global business that develops innovative health care products and services.

•Empire Genomics - created in 2006 by UB faculty member Norma Jean Nowak, Ph.D., a recognized leader in the field of genomics, from research started at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

•AESKU.Diagnostics - a Germany-based life sciences firm seeking to establish a new operation in medical diagnostics in Western New York.

•Lineagen - a Salt Lake City, Utah-based firm seeking to expand its medical diagnostics business via co-location in Western New York.

•Personalized Medicine Pathways - a startup medical diagnostics company formed by CTG and Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

"This is exactly the type of public-private partnership that can lead to medical breakthroughs and innovations originating from New York state," said Alexander N. Cartwright, UB vice president for research and economic development. "UB's expertise and strong track record in big data analytics and biomedical research makes us the ideal partner to help lead this effort."

"The time is here when Western New York is linking IT and biomedical capabilities in a way that is creating exciting new high-tech business opportunities," said venture capitalist Jordan Levy, managing partner for Softbank Capital NY. "The governor's backing for this genomics and big data initiative will drive even more momentum to launch start-ups and grow existing firms. Through this public-private partnership, Buffalo is hitting its stride in a way that's making investors and entrepreneurs alike take notice."

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