UAlbany Launches $100 Million Life Sciences Research Initiative
Contact: Catherine Herman (518) 437-4980
University at Albany President Karen R. Hitchcock launched on Tuesday,
Nov. 13 an initiative that will invest more than $100 million in public
and private funds to build world-class strength in University research
capabilities in the life sciences.
The keystone of this effort is the University's new $78 million, 194,000-square-foot
Life Sciences Research Building, now rising on campus. Hitchcock announced
the initiative at a symbolic cornerstone-laying ceremony next to the
Governor George Pataki had been scheduled to join Hitchcock at the
event but was unable to attend in the wake of Monday's plane crash in
Queens. But he sent a message to all attending the event that was read
"Our $3 billion SUNY/CUNY capital plan is revitalizing campuses all
across our State - producing spectacular new facilities such as this
one at UAlbany. This new building will re-energize the UAlbany campus,
provide students and researchers with access to state-of-the-art labs
and equipment and make the Capital Region a national leader in cutting-edge
life sciences research," said Pataki.
"We are extremely grateful to Governor Pataki for his visionary leadership
in proposing the $3 billion capital plan, which included this wonderful
high-tech facility. We live at a time of remarkable breakthroughs in
our understanding of the fundamental processes of life, and we can envision
even more remarkable possibilities - ranging from new treatments for
disease to new approaches to world hunger. Our Life Sciences Research
Initiative will position the University at Albany at the cutting edge
of these critical research areas," said Hitchcock.
"This public-private partnership will move our University and region
to the next level in the area of life sciences. Our new building will
provide the state-of-the-art space and facilities essential to support
the collaborative enterprises that characterize so much research today,
and these facilities will enable us to recruit and retain world-class
life sciences researchers and research teams," said Hitchcock.
"This building and the research it supports will build on and complement
the outstanding research in genomics and biomedical sciences that is
under way at our East Campus. The University's expertise in nanotechnology,
microelectronics and advanced materials is already being applied to
biological and medical problems, and this new initiative will strengthen
such cross-disciplinary research efforts. All these collaborative efforts
will help build the region's biotechnology industry and drive economic
growth," Hitchcock said.
New York State is providing $65 million of the building's construction
costs through the $3 billion capital plan for the State University of
New York and City University of New York systems. Approximately $5 million
more will come from research grants like the National Institutes of
Health grant that has already been awarded to develop a fermentation
facility in the building. The University is launching a fund raising
drive for $20 million in private gifts for the Life Sciences Research
Initiative - $8 million in support for the building and $12 million
to recruit and retain nationally-prominent research teams to the University.
This campaign, coupled with additional federal funding and University
support, comprises a total investment of more than $100 million to build
world-class life sciences research at the University.
Dr. Thomas D'Ambra, CEO of Albany Molecular Research, Inc. (AMRI) and
chair of the fundraising effort for the Life Sciences Research Initiative,
announced that he and his wife Constance would kick-start the fundraising
campaign by pledging up to $1 million to match donations from University
faculty, staff and friends.
"I pledge to work hard to meet this ambitious fundraising objective
because I believe in the potential of the region, in the potential of
the many researchers already here, and in the potential of what can
be achieved in competing on a national level. A strong academic infrastructure
is the core of all national clusters of the biotechnology industry.
This is a great first step for the region," said D'Ambra.
AMRI itself, co-founded by D'Ambra and Chester Opalka, is a vital core
of the region's developing strength in biotechnology and has been an
essential partner in the transformation of the University's East Campus
into a thriving center for biotechnology. A rapidly growing company,
AMRI provides integrated chemistry research and development services
to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.
Deliberately designed with flexible laboratory space, the Life Sciences
Research Building will ultimately house 39 research groups from a variety
of life science disciplines. Researchers from departments including
psychology, biology, and chemistry, who are working in areas related
to the life sciences, will share the facilities and space, configured
to encourage formal and informal interaction between research groups
to foster synergy among researchers.
Equipment and technologies critical to advance discovery across the
spectrum of disciplines will include those necessary to promote research
in genomics, bioinformatics, proteomics, microarray, mouse transgenesis,
cell culture, and imaging, as well as mass spectroscopy and nuclear
magnetic resonance spectroscopy.
"The construction of this state-of-the-art Life Sciences Research Building
is yet another example of our strong commitment to the promotion of
the biotechnology industry in New York State. This facility, part of
a $100 million initiative, truly establishes the University at Albany
as a premier research institution," said Senate Majority Leader Joseph
Bruno in a statement.
"The Assembly Majority committed its support to the UAlbany Life Sciences
Research Building because it recognized the need for a biotech facility
of this stature in order to attract the cutting-edge research of world-class
scientists pursuing the latest and most promising technologies of our
time," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in a statement. "Biomedical
research holds much potential not only for fighting disease but also
for creating jobs. The top-flight research and training to take place
at this building will strengthen New York's foothold in biomedicine
and provide employment opportunities for generations to come."
"Modern science is now breaking down barriers between traditional disciplines
in order to solve modern complex medical problems. Indeed today's scientists
need to know more and more about areas outside traditional areas of
expertise. This magnificent new building will gather the University
at Albany's leading research minds under one roof to facilitate interdisciplinary
collaboration in the fields of biology, chemistry and bio-chemistry.
The research conducted by our scientists in this new facility will lead
to breakthroughs that will ensure New York's social and economic well-being,"
said SUNY Chancellor Robert King in a statement.
The University's Center for Comparative Functional Genomics, established
on the East Campus in 1999 to advance understanding of human genetic
processes, boasts the kinds of sophisticated facilities that will be
part of the Life Sciences Research Building. The expertise of CCFG researchers
and the core facilities have, in turn, helped attract companies to the
East Campus and major research funding. Both CCFG Co-directors Paulette
McCormick and Albert Millis see the Life Sciences Research Initiative
as critical to the success of their program on the East Campus.
"Already we see a positive impact on our efforts to attract new faculty
and when this state-of-the-art facility is completed we will be equipped
to support a critical mass of researchers doing cutting-edge molecular
biology," says McCormick.
"The physical infrastructure is absolutely essential to attract the
best scientists. To paraphrase the film Field of Dreams: If you
build it, they will come," says Millis.
Research teams to be recruited through the new Initiative are expected
to fall into such areas as transgenesis and genetic manipulation, structural
analysis of proteins and DNA, function of biomolecules at cellular and
organismal level, and population genetics, molecular evolution, and
Also in the facility will be a 3,000-square-foot fermentation facility
that will enable researchers to grow the large amounts of yeast and
bacterial cells that are needed to purify individual enzymes and protein
complexes on a large scale. A National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant
totaling $619,855 is helping support construction of that center.
The new Life Sciences Research Building, located adjacent to the University's
existing Biology Building on the east side of the uptown campus, is
scheduled for completion in 2004-05. Northland Associates of Syracuse
is the contractor for the building. Hillier/New York, one of the largest
architectural firms in the U.S. and the recipient of more than 250 awards
for design excellence, is the architect.
Nov. 13, 2001
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