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The RNA Institute Maintains Commitment to Area Job Creation

Adds Life Sciences Entrepreneurship Expert through School of Business and New Researchers

ALBANY, N.Y. (August 6, 2015) — The RNA Institute at the University at Albany is expanding its capacity for life sciences entrepreneurship through a UAlbany School of Business appointment of Assistant Professor Stephanie L. Black, an expert in strategic management in the field of hi-tech innovation.

Bijan Dey

New to The RNA Institute this fall is Bijan K. Dey, who studies the role of non-coding RNAs in muscle development and muscle diseases, such as Muscular Dystrophy. (Photo by Mark Schmidt)

The Institute is also adding two research biologists this fall who will support its efforts to advance RNA tools and technologies that address many of the most challenging human health problems: Gabriele Fuchs, currently at Stanford University’s School of Medicine, who will also join the faculty of UAlbany’s Department of Biological Sciences; and Bijan K. Dey, currently at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

Black, currently an award-winning teacher at the University of Texas at San Antonio and a former consultant and drug and medical supply business owner, will instruct a new School of Business course for business and science students on the culture of high technology and entrepreneurship in the life sciences. At the Institute, she will direct both its Entrepreneurial Lectureship Series and the Student Venture Fund, in which student RNA researchers and business students team up to develop potentially marketable products.

“Stephanie brings to the University decades of successful entrepreneurship experience to help the University spin-out new biotechnology companies, which is a primary component of the Institute’s mission,” said Paul Agris, director of The RNA Institute.

Donald Siegel, dean of UAlbany’s School of Business, said “The faculty appointment of Stephanie Black will strengthen the bond between UAlbany’s School of Business and its world-renowned RNA Institute. Her unique set of business and entrepreneurial skills will help accelerate the commercialization of research emanating from the Institute. In addition to conducting leading-edge research in entrepreneurship and management, she will play a pivotal role in promoting life sciences entrepreneurship on campus, including both faculty and student-based startups.”

Additionally, the two new researchers will support key areas of study at the Institute. Dr. Fuchs’ research includes the exploration of how human cells synthesize proteins differently, leading some individuals to disease and not others. Her work lends to a key mission of the RNA Institute: collaboration with biotechnology industry partners, including pharmaceutical firms, to develop novel RNA therapies that precede and regulate protein synthesis. According to Agris, the fact our bodies do not synthesize proteins in constant ways impacts how each of us responds to drugs.

Dr. Dey’s current work centers on the role of non-coding RNAs in skeletal muscle stem cell maintenance, muscle development, and muscle degenerative disease. He is devoting particular focus to the devastating X-linked childhood muscle degenerative disease Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. His research, acknowledged as being on the cutting edge of muscular diseases, has been cited in research papers more than 500 times at a still early point of his career.

Concluded Agris, “The RNA Institute relies on a synergy of complementary skill sets in both research and entrepreneurship. These new additions will help us to continue our commitment to the innovation and commercialization of RNA tools and technologies.”

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.