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University at Albany Launches Construction of Advanced Biomedical Technology Research Facility

Facility Deemed Priority Project by Capital Region Economic Development Council

ALBANY, N.Y. (October 11, 2012) -- The RNA Institute at the University at Albany, with the Capital Region Economic Development Council (CREDC), today launched the construction of its new state-of-the-art facility for biomedical technology development and commercialization. The national research resource was awarded $2 million through Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's Regional Council initiative and designated a priority project by the CREDC for its ability to retain and create jobs across New York State.

The launch included a ribbon cutting for the Welcome and Computational Center located at UAlbany's Life Sciences Research Building. The center includes cutting-edge Dell high performance computers for designing drugs and viewing the molecules as they bind in cells, as well as conference space for collaborating scientists.

Community leaders announce the RNA Institute expansion
UAlbany President George M. Philip, along with a host of Capital Region leaders, announces the construction launch of a new advanced biomedical facility. (Photo Mark Schmidt)

"Since its inception, The RNA Institute has worked tirelessly to assemble the funds, industry partnerships and skilled researchers necessary to target RNA to design innovative drugs to combat some of today's most challenging diseases," said UAlbany President George M. Philip. "The launch of this new facility and its high end equipment brings us one step closer to fulfilling this mission."

"Investments in research and development are critical for attracting the entrepreneurs and innovators who will create jobs and spur economic activity," said James Barba, Albany Medical Center President and Capital Region Economic Development Council Co-chair.  "The RNA Institute has not only been at the cutting edge of research, but has helped foster the type of collaboration needed to attract intellectual and financial capital from around the world."

"The Council is intensely focused on strengthening our innovation ecosystem, and the RNA Institute will contribute by expanding the region’s biomedical research capacity and attracting new talent to the area," said Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President and Capital Region Economic Development Council Co-chair, Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson.

The $9.4 million research facility will include 15,000 square feet of lab space, machinery and equipment, and is expected to add 60 highly skilled, biomedical technical and three administrative support positions. Anticipated for completion in mid-2013, the research facility will be similar to those found in modern pharmaceutical companies with an open space concept to promote collaboration and synergistic technologies.

Launched in June 2010, The RNA Institute conducts cutting-edge RNA research for the development and delivery of innovative medicines, vaccines and diagnostics. It currently hosts a scientific team of more than 48 investigators from UAlbany's College of Arts and Sciences, College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, and School of Public Health, as well as regional institutions including the New York State Department of Health Wadsworth Center, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Albany Medical College.

The RNA Institute offers advanced facilities, including a Mass Spectrometry Center, to support the many research projects underway. The Institute has attracted more than $14 million in research support from the state and federal governments, and private corporations.

Last month, the Institute announced the addition of four new researchers from Stanford University, Skirball Institute of NYU School of Medicine, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital. Soon, the Institute plans to announce the newest members of its scientific advisory board, including researchers and industry thought leaders from around the world.

Last year, a total of $785 million was awarded through the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) for job creation and community development projects consistent with each region's strategic plans. The Capital Region was awarded $62.7 million in state support through the Regional Economic Development Council initiative and CFA process for some 88 projects across the region. The RNA Institute was awarded $2 million from Empire State Development (ESD) as part of that process.

"ESD is pleased to support this job creating project through the Regional Council initiative and CFA process," said ESD President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams. "By partnering with our universities, like the University at Albany, and investing in the research and development of tomorrow, we are better positioned to create jobs in the high-tech sector and attract new, investment in the Capital Region and across the state."

"The cutting edge biomedical research that will be developed in this new state-of-the-art facility at SUNY Albany will not only help to grow jobs, but it will further prove that the Capital Region can compete in a global playing field," said Senator Neil Breslin.  "In order to expand business in our communities, it is critical that we encourage new investment like this to create the high-tech jobs of tomorrow, which will only serve to strengthen the entire upstate economy."

"We congratulate the University at Albany's RNA Institute on the commencement of construction of its new, state of the art facility that will further solidify the Institute as the premier resource for research in the country," said Assemblyman Jack McEneny.  "The growth of our high-tech industries is key to the growth of the region and I applaud Governor Cuomo and the Capital Region Economic Development Council for its vision and support of this advanced facility for RNA-based drug discovery."

Learn more about each regional council and their economic development plans.

Learn more about the RNA Institute.

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