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Governor Cuomo Announces Expansion of The RNA Institute, Attracting 60 New Cutting Edge Biomedical Jobs

Governor says $32.7 million public-private investment would position Institute as a magnet for innovation and commercialization under 'Tax-Free NY'

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 11, 2013) – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the expansion of The RNA Institute laboratories at the University at Albany, a new state-of-the-art facility for biomedical technology development. The 15,000 square foot laboratory build-out will serve as a pioneering R&D hub making New York a national leader in RNA science, technology development, drug discovery, and diagnostics. This unique “open source” biomedical research facility brings together leading scientists from around the globe to collaborate in the design of RNA technologies and drug therapies for the treatment of cancer, Alzheimer’s, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), HIV/AIDS and MRSA. Under Governor Cuomo’s newly proposed Tax-Free NY initiative, the RNA Institute is positioned to be a magnet for investment and innovation.

“The University at Albany’s RNA Institute is a shining example of how public-private partnerships can flourish with the proper support and investment,” said Governor Cuomo. “The ‘Tax-Free NY’ model will help the RNA Institute and similar centers across the state to take the next step in becoming economic hubs for innovation and commercialization, attracting new business and investment to Upstate New York.”

Through the efforts of state, federal, corporate and University partners, the Institute has already secured $32.7 million in combined public and private investment in only three years. In 2012, the RNA Institute received a $2 million grant from Empire State Development (ESD) through Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council initiative, a $400,000 NYSTAR match to the $5.4 million NIH American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) construction award, and was designated a priority project by the Capital Region Economic Development Council. The RNA Institute has also secured $15.4 million in NYSUNY 2020 and UAlbany investments, and $9.4 million in federal and industry funding.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher said, “The success of the RNA Institute is yet another superb example of SUNY’s potential to drive innovation, opportunity, and economic development in New York State. We thank Governor Cuomo, Congressman Tonko, and our industry partners who believe in our mission and understand the value of public-private partnerships.”

The new laboratories will house 60 highly skilled biomedical scientists, technicians and administrative employees. The RNA Institute has attracted researchers from Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York University and Stanford University while assembling a scientific advisory board with a Nobel Laureate and members of the National and European Academy of Sciences. Partnerships with global corporations have resulted in the acquisition of computational equipment, rare online molecular libraries and the establishment of a student venture program where new technological discoveries are currently in the licensing stage.

“The University at Albany is grateful for the leadership of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and his Regional Economic Development Council, SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, US Congressman Paul Tonko, and our entire delegation, as well as the corporate support and collaborative spirit of companies such as Sigma-Aldrich, Thermo Fisher, Bruker Daltronics, Dell, and Krackler Scientific,” said UAlbany President Robert Jones. “Together, our shared vision has helped secure $32.7 million in federal, state and private investments to create a world-class biomedical research institute poised to become a national leader in RNA technologies.”

“The expansion of this cutting-edge biomedical research enterprise positions the University at Albany and the New York Capital Region to be a major player in the global RNA industry, of which $4 billion alone is attributable to therapeutic RNA silencing. This project is a fine example of the innovation the Capital Region is known for and a great result of the private and public sectors working together.” said US Congressman Paul Tonko, who serves as a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. In 2009,Congressman Tonko helped the University secure a $5.4 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant through the ARRA.

“Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, partnerships with our universities, like the University at Albany, have become critical to attracting new investment and growing jobs in our state,” said ESD President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams. “The opening of the RNA Institute’s new lab space clearly demonstrates the success of this strategy and what can be accomplished when we work together. We congratulate UAlbany and the staff at the RNA Institute, and are pleased to support this Regional Council priority project that has great potential to develop and commercialize the biomedical technologies of our future, and ensure New York State remains competitive in this increasingly high-tech global economy.”

RNA Institute Director 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. It is only through state, federal and corporate investments that we are able to carry on our important work and tap into the promise of RNA technology.”

Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings said, "As further commitment on the part of Governor Cuomo to stimulate the economy of upstate New York, the expansion of the RNA Institute at UAlbany lends significant credence to this. When government entities work together with the private sector positive results occur. Such cooperation and collaboration are watershed tenets of Governor Cuomo's administration. In addition, I would like to thank Congressman Tonko for his support in moving this expansion forward."

Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy: "Great things are happening at RNA Institute Laboratory at the University at Albany and will continue to happen because Governor Cuomo understands that leadership and partnership are a winning combination for New York State and its residents. This award means job retention, job growth and more research to help those who suffer from crippling diseases like cancer, ALS, AIDS and Alzheimer's."

The RNA Institute now boasts several research collaborations with institutions such as Albany Medical College and RPI, as well as public-private partnerships with global corporations such as Albany Medical Research, Inc., Sigma-Aldrich and ThermoFisher Scientific. The Institute has also established a network of research affiliates with more than 50 laboratories nationwide encompassing more than 350 researchers.