Submitted by Niagara University
Niagara University will open a science research lab on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus this summer, thanks to $750,000 in funding secured through the office of Congressman Brian Higgins. The biomedical lab will include a focus on STEM research, and it will allow Niagara University students to conduct high-level research in the facility, as well as interact and collaborate with professionals in the health care field. The lab is located at 73 High St.
“There is incredible research being conducted by our undergraduate students in the B. Thomas Golisano Center for Integrated Sciences on the university campus,” said the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of Niagara University. “Opening this lab will not only complement the on-campus research, it will elevate our excellence in the field of science, and will provide our students to do this work within Buffalo’s medical campus, collaborating with university partners and leaders in health care from our region, which begins to develop their career pathway into a career in the sciences.”
The funding for the research lab was secured through a federal 2023 budget request, which was supported by Higgins and Sen. Chuck Schumer.
“We are very grateful to Congressman Higgins and his staff for their work on the research lab, and Sen. Schumer for his support of the project,” said Tom Burns, Niagara’s associate vice president for public and government relations. “This funding is important for our students, but it also furthers the development of research that may play a role in the treatment of common health issues in our community.”
Higgins said, “This is a great opportunity to expand hands-on learning in a setting that allows for synergy between Niagara University and Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus neighbors. This federal funding is an investment in students and in the development of trailblazing scientific solutions to real-world challenges.”
Niagara’s research lab will be managed by Dr. Mary McCourt, a professor of chemistry at Niagara University. A member of the faculty of NU’s department of chemistry, biochemistry and physics since 1999, McCourt’s critical expert areas include computational chemistry and molecular modeling, cancer-targeted drug design, and structural biology with emphasis on lipids. Her main areas of research are the development of Cholestosome technology and urine-based biomarker analysis for diagnostic screens focused on breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
“Undergraduate research experience is a high-impact practice that enhances the overall experience for our students,” McCourt said. “Direct experiences in a science research setting prepares our science majors for graduate school, medical school, health professions, business, industry, and emerging fields related to pollution control, and ecology.”
McCourt holds 14 patents for the Cholestosome technology, which was developed at NU and is moving toward commercialization. She was presented with the 2020 Jacob F. Schoellkopf Medal, which is awarded as part of the Western New York section of the American Chemical Society. The accolade was presented to McCourt “in recognition of her pioneering contributions to the development of drug delivery methods for the treatment of breast cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease, and for her outstanding dedication to teaching and mentoring.