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Symposium Promotes Medical Advances through Alliance of 3 Capital Region Research Institutions

The research vice presidents who represent the NY CAP Research Alliance: left to right, Vincent Verdile, Albany Medical Center; James Dias, University at Albany; and Jonathan Dordick, RPI.

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 30, 2013) — Biomedical researchers, industry leaders and policymakers convened recently to discuss ways to foster collaboration among Capital Region institutions that will translate basic scientific research into practical, commercial healthcare applications.

The symposium was sponsored by the NY CAP Research Alliance, an association created in 2012 to further biomedical research in the Capital Region as part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council initiative. The Alliance is headed by Albany Medical Center (AMC) president and CEO James Barba and presidents Robert Jones of the University at Albany and Shirley Ann Jackson of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI).

The symposium included presentations of the ten biomedical research projects, supported by $745,000, which were awarded competitively by the Research Alliance last year. Each project involves collaborations among scientists from at least two of the three institutions to advance biomedical research with potential for commercialization.

“This symposium marks a significant milestone in the progress of the NY CAP Research Alliance in fostering collaborations among Capital Region biomedical researchers and advancing the potential to compete successfully for federal and private funding,” said President Jones.

Barba noted that Alliance’s efforts hold the promise of both improving the delivery of health care and developing and attracting new businesses to the region, sparking job creation. “Our three institutions are working together to combine our strengths in ways that will benefit our community for years to come,” he said. Jackson said she believed the Alliance’s work will “generate vital discoveries and innovations in healthcare.”

Keynote speakers included Andrew Ellington, professor of biochemistry at the University of Texas, who has worked on the evolution of molecules and organisms, with recent work on DNA nanotechnology and circuitry, who spoke about synthetic biology; and Donald L. Price, professor of pathology, neurology and neurosciences and director of the division of neuropathology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, who spoke about cognitive impairments and dementia in the elderly.

The symposium, held on the RPI campus, also hosted panels with research and industry leaders on regenerative medicine, which were led by Jonathan S. Dordick, vice president for research and professor of chemical and biological engineering at RPI; and on neurosciences, led by James A. Dias, Vice President for Research at the University at Albany,

The current Alliance-funded research projects are:

  • Pursuing a new drug for the prevention of neuropathic pain: Philip Albrecht and Frank Rice, AMC; Sridar Chittur, Center for Functional Genomics, UAlbany.

  • Pursuing novel treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease: Peter Tessier, RPI; Ewan McNay, departments of Psychology and Biology, UAlbany; and Earl Zimmerman, AMC.

  • Pursuing a fast and effective way to diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease and differentiate it from other forms of dementia: Igor Lednev, Department of Chemistry, UAlbany, and Earl Zimmerman, AMC.

  • Investigating specialized tissue engineering: Peter Vincent, AMC, and Guohao Dai, RPI.

  • Developing a sensor for the early detection of Alzheimer’s Disease: biologists Paul Agris, Marlene Belfort, and Hua Shi, UAlbany; Georges Belfort, RPI; and Earl Zimmerman, AMC.

  • Developing smart bandages for healing wounds: Shiva Prasad Kotha, RPI, and Nadine Hempel, CNSE, UAlbany.

  • Developing a novel implantable sensor for use in orthopedics and neurosurgery: Eric Ledet and Kenneth Connor, RPI; Richard Uhl and Darryl DiRisio, AMC; and Nathaniel Cady, CNSE, UAlbany.

  • Pursuing specialized tissue engineering: biologist Melinda Larsen, UAlbany; Livingston Van De Water, AMC; and David Corr, RPI.

  • Developing sensors to differentiate forms of prostate cancer: Martin Tenniswood, Department of Biomedical Science, UAlbany; Jeffrey Ross and Hugh Fisher, AMC.

  • Developing a method to control colon cancer through use of vitamins: JoEllen Welsh, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, UAlbany, and Timothy Sellati, AMC.

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