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UAlbany's Gen*NY*Sis Center for Excellence in Cancer Genomics Appoints Three New Scientists to Lead Cutting-edge Research Efforts
New Faculty Augment Center’s Capabilities in Cancer Genomics, Systems Biology and Disease Regulation

Contact: Karl Luntta (518) 437-4980

ALBANY, N.Y. (September 19, 2003) -- The University at Albany Gen*NY*Sis Center for Excellence in Cancer Genomics (GCECG), a comprehensive, state-of-the-art research facility operated by the University's Center for Functional Genomics (CFG), has announced the appointment of three new scientists to its cancer biology research team. The three researchers will report to GCECG director and University at Albany professor Paulette McCormick, Ph.D. and are faculty members in the Department of Biomedical Sciences in the University’s School of Public Health.

"These young scientists are emerging leaders in some of the newest and most exciting areas of cancer and biological research," said Dr. McCormick. "Each is a recognized authority on subjects that are re-crafting our understanding of the molecular interactions that lead to cancer. What’s more, although these scientists are pursuing their own independent research interests, each researcher’s work complements their colleagues’ efforts and the ongoing work at this institution. I am confident that our new staff members will make significant contributions to the center’s cancer biology program and keep us at the leading edge of cancer research."

"I’ve never seen a group of young scientists of this caliber brought in at the beginning of a new cancer research facility,” said Dr. Peter Levin, Dean of the UAlbany School of Public Health. "These new faculty have the potential to be world-class scientists and will add immeasurably to the depth of our program in cancer by linking laboratory science with population based cancer epidemiology. With them on board, we can now begin to make significant progress in the war on cancer.”

About the Scientists

Dr. Julio A. Aguirre-Ghiso
Julio Aguirre-Ghiso joins CFG from The Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, where he was a Post-doctoral Fellow. Aguirre-Ghiso, whose research focus is tumor metastasis (the spreading of a tumor from one location in the body to another), is a co-author of more than 20 papers published in leading cancer research journals such as Cancer Cell, Cancer Research, Molecular Biology of the Cell, Current Opinion in Cell Biology, the Journal of Cell Biology, Oncogene and the International Journal of Cancer. He is also a frequent lecturer and reviewer for numerous scientific journals and organizations.

Aguirre-Ghiso received his master's degree in molecular genetics and biotechnology in 1994 and his doctorate in molecular cell biology in 1997, both from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. He has earned numerous awards and honors, including two “Best Basic Research Paper” awards from the University of Buenos Aires, where he also received undergraduate and graduate fellowships. He is a recipient of the Florencio Fiorini Foundation award from the Argentine League for the Fight Against Cancer, and the highly competitive and prestigious Charles H. Revson Fellowship in Biomedical Research, an award granted to selected scientists at four New York City medical institutions.

With his focus on cancer, Aguirre-Ghiso and colleagues recently identified the mechanisms that cause certain tumors to grow or become dormant. He intends to identify the genetic programs that dictate dormancy in multiple tumor types and to exploit that dormancy as a cancer therapy.

Dr. Douglas S. Conklin
Douglas Conklin comes to GCECG from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Long Island, New York, where he was a Research Investigator studying RNA interference (RNAi), a natural process by which scientists can ‘silence’ genes to study the effect that the gene’s de-activation has on a disease or normal physiologic functions. Prior to his work at Cold Spring Harbor, Conklin was a senior staff scientist at Genetica, Inc., a Cambridge, MA biotechnology company. Conklin is the co-author of several research papers and his work has been published in prestigious journals such as Nature, Science, Nature Structural Biology, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Molecular Cell Biology and is a co-inventor of two awarded patents, one of which focuses on the use of RNA interference as a laboratory technique, and another patent regarding modified retroviral vectors (a method of introducing genetic material into living mammalian cells). In addition to being an avid lecturer, he has won several awards, including two NIH trainee awards and a Damon Runyan-Walter Winchell Postgraduate Fellowship.

Following receipt of a bachelor’s degree in microbiology at the University of Pittsburgh, Conklin was a National Institutes of Health trainee and then a graduate assistant at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he earned a doctorate in molecular biology. He conducted his post-doctoral work at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories, which he then joined as a staff scientist.
Dr. Conklin’s current work with RNAi is some of the most advanced in the field of functional genomics since the new RNAi techniques are capable of targeting or silencing virtually any gene or sets of genes - a feat that, until now, was never possible on a wide scale. RNAi can be used to develop diagnostics and to validate targets for new therapies. In addition, RNAi itself may be used therapeutically by silencing genes that directly contribute to disease.

Dr. Scott Tenenbaum
Scott Tenenbaum arrives at GCECG following a Post-doctoral Fellowship in microbiology at Duke University, where he helped pioneer work in the breaking field of ribonomics. Ribonomics is a novel approach using RNA-binding proteins to identify exactly which sets of genes are involved in specific diseases or processes within in a cell. This represents a major advance over traditional approaches which typically only identify activated genes without looking at the way the gene products are actually combined and used to make proteins. A co-inventor of five awarded patents, Dr. Tenenbaum is also the recipient of an assortment of awards and Fellowships, including NIH postdoctoral fellowships in viral oncology and autoimmune immunology; two awards from the Duke University Comprehensive Cancer Center (Fellow in Cancer and Basic Science of Cancer); the National Hemophilia Foundation Judith Graham Pool Fellowship; The American Association of Blood Banks Transfusion Medicine award; and the Roche Laboratories Award for Excellence in Clinical Research. Tenenbaum is the co-author or lead author of more than a dozen peer-reviewed papers appearing in journals including Cell, the Lancet, JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association), Gene, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Molecular Cell, Rheumatology, and Autoimmunity.

Tenenbaum received a bachelor's of science degree in liberal arts and sciences from the University of Missouri, a master’s degree in microbiology and immunology from Wright State University in Ohio, and his doctorate in microbiology and immunology from Tulane University, after which he went on to post-doctoral fellowships at Tulane and Duke Universities. He explains his work with an analogy to cooking: whereas the Human Genome Project was able to sequence our DNA or “genome” and identify the ingredients (genes) the body uses to create the body’s proteins, tissues and organs, decoding the “ribonome” is like reading a recipe - a set of instructions telling us how, when, and how much of those ingredients need to be combined and prepared in order to create a particular dish. Clinically, the use of ribonomics promises to greatly increase science’s understanding of all our genes and how those genes are related to health and disease.

About the Gen*NY*Sis Center for Excellence in Cancer Genomics and the Center for Functional Genomics

The Gen*NY*Sis Center for Excellence in Cancer Genomics was founded with the support of Senator Joseph Bruno, majority leader of the New York State Senate, the state’s Gen*NY*Sis program, and the University at Albany to provide the Capital District with cutting-edge expertise in cancer biology. Its new research facility, on the University’s East Campus in Rensselaer, N.Y., is scheduled to open in fall 2004.

The Center for Functional Genomics, under whose auspices the Gen*NY*Sis Center currently operates, provides the scientific community with the infrastructure, instrumentation and expertise necessary to perform cutting-edge biotechnology research.

As part of its mission, CFG maintains core competencies in genomics, proteomics, bioinformatics, transgenesis and cell and tissue culture. CFG, in partnership with Taconic Biotechnology, also runs one of the nation’s four NIH-designated mutant mouse resource centers, providing researchers with mice for pre-clinical studies aimed at finding treatments for genetic diseases.

CFG also supports emerging biotechnology and biomedical companies with a business incubator that includes lab space, technological infrastructure, and a staff of highly experienced research scientists.


Established in 1844 and designated a center of the State University of New York in 1962, the University at Albany's broad mission of excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, research and public service engages 17,000 diverse students in eight degree-granting schools and colleges. The University is engaged in a $500 million fundraising campaign, the most ambitious in its history, with the goal of placing it among the nation's top 30 public research universities by the end of the decade. For more information about this nationally ranked University, visit www.albany.edu


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