UAlbany’s School of Public Health Establishes the Capital Region Medical Research Institute

ALBANY, N.Y. (October 26, 2015) -- The University at Albany’s School of Public Health has received $550,000 to establish the Capital Region Medical Research Institute (CRMRI), which will support innovative and collaborative approaches to education, research, and medical care, especially in the field of urology. The Institute is designed to bring together scientists and physicians to discover new information about healthcare treatments and practices that will benefit patients and improve outcomes.

The gift was generously donated by the former Capital Region Medical Research Foundation, Inc. (CRMRF), an independent nonprofit organization previously established to advance health research in the Capital Region.

Advisory Board of the Capital Region Medical Research Institute
Advisory board members of the Capital Region Medical Research Institute of UAlbany's School of Public Health.

Utilizing the gift, the Institute will launch a research grant program designed to provide seed money to Capital Region scientists studying innovative treatments or diagnostics, and disease prevention strategies or population health focused on urological health.  The goal is to develop new potential areas of research or partnerships which lead to additional outside funding and publications.  Established investigators may apply if they are branching into new areas of research.

The University at Albany Foundation will manage and leverage the funds for CRMRI, enabling the institute to broaden research and collaboration opportunities and enhance education and research initiatives.

"This new partnership provides new and lasting opportunities to advance scientific discovery and promote innovative health research in the Capital Region," said William Cromie, M.D., who helped to establish CRMRF. "We’re delighted to partner with the University at Albany, the University at Albany Foundation and UAlbany’s School of Public Health to manage and develop this fund for many years to come."

"This new venture will provide a significant boost for scientists to conduct health research right here in the greater Albany area," said Philip C. Nasca, dean of the School of Public Health. "I want to thank Dr. William Cromie and the board of CRMRF for entrusting us with the stewardship of this Institute."

First Out of the Gate

The Institute has already helped advance partnerships between lab researchers, clinical investigators, professors and physicians.

Most notably, Urological Institute of Northeastern New York pediatric urologists Jean Hollowell, M.D., and Barry Kogan, M.D., collaborated with University at Albany Department of Biomedical Sciences colleagues Sridar V. Chittur, Ph.D., director of the Microarray Core, Center for Functional Genomics, and Martin Tenniswood, Ph.D., Empire Innovations Professor and director of the Cancer Research Center, to carry out a project on DNA sequencing of urine specimens from children wpresumably sterile urine. Indeed, all patients had negative urine cultures based on traditional techniques. Yet in every sample, DNA from numerous different bacteria were identified.

"There is a urinary 'microbiome' even in urine that we previously thought was sterile," said Dr. Kogan. "This finding is now leading to many other research questions: Are the bacteria that we are finding good for the bladder or bad? Is there a healthy vs. unhealthy microbiome? Are some of these microbiomes associated with symptoms? Does vaginal delivery vs. C-section alter the urinary microbiome? Does breast feeding vs. formula feeding alter the microbiome? What is the affect of antibiotic usage?"

Dr. Kogan noted, "We are very grateful to CRMRF/CRMRI for their support of our initial study in this area. The results were eye-opening and have enabled us to approach these questions from a totally different perspective. I am confident they will ultimately lead to many outside funding opportunities."

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