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‘New York Hub for Emerging Applications in Life Sciences’ Collaborative Research Initiative Launched

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today launched the New York Hub for Emerging Applications in Life Sciences (NY HEALS) initiative, the first-ever statewide public-private collaborative research initiative that brings together top researches and technology leaders to enhance the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and cure of a variety of diseases. NY HEALS continues the Governor’s innovative-driven strategy to leverage the strength of New York’s world-class academic and research institutions.

“This new collaboration is another example of New York’s exemplary public and private academic institutions working hand in hand with the private sector to grow our state’s innovation economy,” Governor Cuomo said. “As NY HEALS demonstrates, our state continues to lead the way in developing cutting edge public-private partnerships, and advancing effective health solutions for a wide variety of diseases. I applaud the founding members of NY HEALS for coming together to make new progress in the fields of science and medicine, while also growing our economy.”

With a goal of maximizing the expertise of New York’s diverse research community, NY HEALS brings together technology leaders such as IBM and a host of the state’s leading health and life science education and research institutions. Those institutions include the Albany Medical Center, SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE), the Research Foundation for SUNY, the University at Albany, the Jacobs Institute, Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, the Wadsworth Center, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Consistent with SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher’s “Power of SUNY” strategy, leading SUNY entities engaged Albany Medical Center, the Jacobs Institute, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, and RPI as founding members of the collaborative.

The initiative will enable research projects by offering leading doctors and scientists access to advanced infrastructure, such as IBM’s Watson supercomputer. Watson employs natural language capabilities, hypothesis generation, and evidence-based learning to help support medical professionals in making more informed decisions about potential diagnosis and treatment options.

NY HEALS will also enable the application of leading-edge technologies to vital areas of life sciences, including:

  • Neurology: Combining brain mapping interface software with advanced sensor, telemetry and power electronics capabilities to address brain-related diseases such as Epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, among others;
  • Personalized Medicine: Enabling pilot-prototype and manufacturing scale-up of Micro-Electro-Mechanical-Systems (MEMS), photonic-based sensors and emitters, and magnetic-based sensors for wearable health monitors and portable drug delivery devices;
  • Pharmacology: Applying bioinformatics technologies to discover genetic correlations for newborn screening and infectious diseases, among others;
  • Oncology: Taking a multimodal approach to cancer prevention, treatment and patient care that will translate New York State and industrial drug discovery initiatives into treatments and develop disease-specific therapeutics based on a patient’s genetic and environmental factors;
  • Infectious Disease: Exploring integration of infectious disease screening to provide new platforms for detection of infectious threats, acceleration of drug discovery for treatment, and eradication of infectious agents;
  • Environmental Health and Safety: Bringing together nanoelectronics consortia with nanoparticle characterization techniques and toxicological assay platforms for premier leadership in human and environmental health in nanotechnology-enabled industries; and
  • Access to Clinical Excellence: Advancing the use of technologies to support clinical decision-making at remote locations and deployment of data to identify opportunities to improve the health of populations.

“By working with our private sector counterparts across the state, SUNY and the Research Foundation are harnessing the state’s intellectual capital to drive innovative solutions to major public health concerns,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher. “NY HEALS continues SUNY’s support of the governor’s innovation agenda and our growing number of influential public-private partnerships.”

“While each of our institutions has produced tremendous advances in brain mapping, collaboration with each other and other institutions gives us the powerful potential to reach heights we and President Obama can only imagine,” said James J. Barba, President and CEO of Albany Medical Center, who hosted the announcement. “Each of our separate institutions has demonstrated remarkable research power. Today, we are embarking on a statewide effort to ensure that we achieve even more.”

“NY HEALS fits perfectly with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s blueprint for harnessing the power of education and innovation to enable research excellence and catalyze economic opportunity across New York State,” said CNSE Senior Vice President and CEO Dr. Alain E. Kaloyeros. “We are delighted to partner with our colleagues in private industry, embodied by IBM, and the state’s prestigious academic and research institutions in this cross-regional, multi-disciplinary collaboration, and to deploy nanotechnology know-how to enhance medical care and improve the quality of life for individuals in our community and across the nation.”

“IBM is delighted to join this ground breaking effort in New York State aimed at improving healthcare. We have had a strong partnership with the state and many of its world class higher education institutions for years in areas such as nanotechnology, big data analytics and supercomputing,” said Dr. John E. Kelly III, senior vice president and director of IBM Research. “Bringing all of this expertise and resources together, in addition to our most advanced analytics technologies, to further advancement around our most pressing needs in healthcare, is very timely.”

“The success of NY HEALS will be demonstrated by accelerated collaborations and research synergies as our regional partners work together to bring life-changing therapies and innovation to the global life-science marketplace,” said University at Albany President Robert Jones. “We are thrilled to bring the power of such research leaders as our RNA Institute and Cancer Research Center to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s vision of leveraging public-private partnerships to enhance public health.”

“The NY HEALS partnership is powerful testimony for New York’s leading collaborative capacity in research and innovation in health care,” said Research Foundation for SUNY President Dr. Tim Killeen. “We congratulate our SUNY colleagues and our industry and community partners for assembling an extraordinary team dedicated to applying leading edge technologies to improve care and reduce health care costs.”

“Rensselaer is pleased to bring a unique combination of talent and technology to the NY HEALS initiative,” said Shirley Ann Jackson, President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. “The Rensselaer Institute for Data Exploration and Applications (IDEA) leverages our wealth of data science, high performance computing, predictive analytics, data visualization, and cognitive computing capabilities. All of that, combined with the genius of Watson at Rensselaer, will harness the power of data to generate new discoveries and innovations offering solutions to scientific and societal challenges.”

“The world-class intellectual and physical resources being engaged through this collaboration will firmly position New York as a home for next-generation medical technologies and first-class patient care,” said L. Nelson (Nick) Hopkins, M.D., CEO of the Jacobs Institute. “The Jacobs Institute is delighted to join with our esteemed partner institutions on this important initiative that will enable new approaches to identifying, treating, curing, and preventing disease, while cementing the state’s role as a nexus for cutting-edge life sciences education and research.”

“The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is pleased to participate in this important cross-state initiative envisioned by Governor Cuomo as we continue to support private-sector growth through our partnership with the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering,” said Matthew Enstice, President and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc. “The Governor’s vision to make these connections across New York State is already creating jobs and opportunities.”

“The Wadsworth Center is delighted to be a part of this ground-breaking initiative and to partner with such prestigious institutes across the state. Scientists at the Center who are already nationally and internationally renowned will be active collaborators especially in the areas of neurology, inherited genetic diseases and infectious disease diagnostics” said Dr. Nirav R. Shah, Commissioner for Health.

NY HEALS complements Governor Cuomo’s announcement of SUNY’s Networks of Excellence – in particular SUNY Health Now and SUNY Brain – which will leverage the capacities at SUNY campuses to increase research collaborations and commercialization activities between SUNY and industry partners in the areas of health and neuroscience. One of the first initiatives to be undertaken by NY HEALS, entitled BRAIN NY, will bring together researchers from these institutions to facilitate brain mapping efforts and further collaboration.

Announced by the President in April 2013, the BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) initiative was created to advance the understanding of the human brain through investments in research by the National Institutes of Health, beginning with $40 million in federal fiscal year 2014. Funding priorities for FY 2014, outlined in a conference call held by the NIH on September 16, include generating a census of cell types, creating structural maps of the brain, linking neuronal activity to behavior, and creating mechanisms to enable collection of human data, among others.

The founding institutions have found their work in the field of brain mapping to be complementary and their multi-disciplinary partnership to be increasingly important to successful competition for federal research funding, as follows:

  • Albany Medical Center has made extraordinary advances in brain mapping based on  clinical experience with patients as a Level 4 epilepsy center and, through collaboration with the State’s Wadsworth Laboratory under a Department of Defense grant, have been developing brain-computer interface technology to help those immobilized by disease or trauma.
  • SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering researchers and engineers, following discussions with Albany Medical Center scientists, have identified applications of nanotechnology to improve durability and portability of material and devices placed on the brain that could collect, process, and transmit brain signals and develop emerging nanotechnology platforms for neuro-related diagnostics and therapeutic treatment strategies. Development and manufacture of materials could occur at CNSE’s Smart System Technology and Commercialization Center of Excellence (STC) in Rochester, which offers state-of-the-art capabilities for micro electro mechanical systems (MEMS) fabrication.
  • The Research Foundation for SUNY is the largest, most comprehensive university-connected research foundation in the country dedicated to driving SUNY’s scope, scale and diversity as an engine of New York’s innovation economy. The RF supports nearly $1 billion in SUNY research activity annually, providing sponsored programs, administration, and innovation support services to SUNY faculty performing research in life sciences and medicine; engineering and nanotechnology; physical sciences and energy; social sciences, and computer and information sciences.
  • University at Albany scientists are advancing knowledge across a broad spectrum of research in the life sciences with special emphasis on cutting-edge investigation into the structure and function of biologically active molecules. Scientific research is coalesced around core interests in RNA science and technology, neuroscience, molecular evolution of disease and molecular biology. Founded on the philosophy that scientific discovery is a multidisciplinary, collaborative and highly interactive enterprise, the Life Science Research Initiative is based on a dynamic approach to scientific discovery and education.
  • The Jacobs Institute, based in Buffalo, drives next-generation technologies in vascular medicine and related neurological diseases through trans-disciplinary collaboration among clinicians, researchers, industry and entrepreneurs. The Institute conducts clinical research on non-evasive techniques using catheters, robotics and emerging technologies in laboratory imaging and related databases while working closely with the University of Buffalo Department Of Neurosurgery.
  • The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, led by the University at Buffalo, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Kaleida Health, and the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute, continues to grow and create an environment that a variety of life sciences, biotech, and clean-tech companies, as well as companies that can support this research and development, seek to grow within. New technologies are being developed and patented by the BNMC institutions. This ever-changing campus environment encourages groundbreaking advancements via innovation and entrepreneurism and seeks to change the way health care, science, and energy enhance quality of life.
  • The Wadsworth Center, New York's public health reference laboratory, has a strong commitment to research especially in the areas of public health genomics, bacterial drug resistance, vector-borne diseases and biomonitoring for environmental toxins. The Center has a well-established and internationally renowned group developing brain-computer interface (BCI) technologies to restore communication and control to people who are severely paralyzed by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), strokes, or other devastating neuromuscular disorders.
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute research focuses on identifying critical “problem sets” where expertise in cognitive and high performance computing, biotechnology, and biomedical partnerships drive discovery and innovation. Working across disciplines and sectors, powerful new tools and technologies are applied to access, aggregate, and analyze data from multiple sources and in multiple formats, in order to address challenges and opportunities across the spectrum, including infectious disease, environmental health and safety, health care, biomedicine, and neurotechnology. Rensselaer was the first university to receive the Watson system.

A new website,, will connect and provide information and outreach to scientists across New York, including work underway at both the state and national levels, as well as soliciting information about related research being conducted at other institutions throughout the state.



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