UB Today Alumni Magazine Online - Fall 2002
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Beating the Challenge
Giving for world-class leadership
Generation to Generation

Giving for world-class leadership
Bringing bioinformatics to the region

Hiring a world-class leader for a world-class facility-that was the impetus behind a $1,542,000 grant from the Western New York–based John R. Oishei Foundation. It worked: Enter Jeffrey Skolnick, who, effective September 30, will head up the Buffalo Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics.

Skolnick-a pioneer in the field and internationally renowned for his work in computational biology and bioinformatics-will be director of the new center, which merges high-end technology, including supercomputing and visualization, with expertise in genomics, proteomics and bioimaging to foster advances in science and health care.

Introduced at a May 9 news conference during Industry-University Day 2002, Skolnick has said that he is grateful for this "extraordinary opportunity" and that he has been given "the tools to make [the center] absolutely world class."

He added that Buffalo has the people- along with a multi-disciplinary approach, which is the key to success today in biology. "The environment here is remarkably collaborative, and there are some extraordinarily good people. The combination can’t help but make it successful," he stated.

The three-year foundation grant will assist with the salaries of Skolnick and two top researchers-Andrzej A. Kolinski and Marcos R. Betancourt-who will be following him to UB from the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, Missouri.

Thomas E. Baker, executive director for the Oishei Foundation, praised the selection of Skolnick as center director and added that the foundation welcomes the opportunity to provide these start-up funds, "assisting the university and its research partners as they bring the emerging field of bioinformatics to this region."

Elected officials committed to the recruiting effort, as well. New York State Governor George E. Pataki provided $1.9 million in recruiting assistance, while U.S. Representative Thomas Reynolds and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton garnered $3.1 million in appropriations for an upgrade of UB’s supercomputer that will enable Skolnick to conduct his research.

The John R. Oishei Foundation, a major supporter of UB and its community-focused programs, has given or pledged more than $7.4 million to date to The Campaign for UB for programs ranging from the Toshiba Stroke Research Center to the Community Health Network of Western New York to the UB Institute for Nonprofit Agencies.

Committed to enhancing the quality of life for Buffalo-area residents, the Oishei Foundation supports medical research, health care, education and the cultural, social, civic and other charitable needs of the community. The foundation was established in 1940 by John R. Oishei, founder of Trico Products Corp., one of the world’s leading manufacturers of windshield wiper systems.

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