UAlbany's RNA Institute Leading the Way on Biomedical Research

The study of RNA is still a relatively new field of research, with the promise to be more fruitful than the study of DNA for human disease research.  Ribonucleic acid, RNA, conveys genetic information and directs protein production in cells, controlling genes like an on-off switch.  Human diseases result when proteins are not made correctly or in sufficient quantity.  While pharmaceuticals have not generally targeted the process controlling protein production, new RNA research is examining the potential for a new class of drugs.  (Click here for a brief video describing RNA and its potential medical applications.)

The RNA Institute at the University at Albany is a pioneering hub for RNA research, making New York and the Capital Region a national leader in RNA science, technology development, drug discovery, and diagnostics.  Comprised of more than 50 corporate, government, and university research entities that employ nearly 350 researchers in New York's Capital Region alone, the RNA Institute serves as a sustainable resource for the research and discovery of medical interventions and diagnostics aimed at a range of human and hard-to-treat diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer's, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), HIV/AIDS, and MSRA.  RNA Institute Director Dr. Paul Agris said, "RNA-based drug therapies hold great promise in the development of treatments for some of the most serious diseases facing us today."

In June 2013, the University unveiled a new 15,000 square foot facility that will allow the Institute to collaborate with partners on investigative RNA research and technology development efforts.  The new space has been built on an "open source" model, where leading researchers from around the globe can share ideas, knowledge, and tools that will showcase the value of RNA research to the future of medicine.  The RNA Institute already boasts many research collaborations, including with Albany Medical College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, as well as public-private partnerships with global corporations including Thermo Fisher Scientific, AMRI, and Sigma-Aldrich, Inc.  It continues to reach out to potential partners to collaborate on research projects, training, and developing commercial applications of RNA-based technologies.

Each year, the RNA Institute attracts about $11 million in federal funds to conduct research with potentially life-saving applications.  Additionally, under the newly established Tax-Free NY initiative, the RNA Institute is positioned to be a magnet for additional investment and innovation.  The Institute is working in collaboration with UAlbany's School of Business to provide researchers with tools and information to successfully develop and market new products, making the Capital Region the center of this new paradigm of drug discovery and commercial innovation.  

For more information about the exciting work of the RNA Institute, please visit http://www.albany.edu/rna/