The grand opening of Buffalo Niagara’s new life-changing chapter
Creation of a life-sciences industry and economy for Buffalo Niagara has taken an historic step forward with the grand opening of the University at Buffalo's New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences.
A series of community events during June celebrated the opening of the Center of Excellence. They included a ribbon cutting and open house, a science-industry symposium, "Frontiers in Biological Systems," that featured world-renowned scientists, UB researchers, and CEOs of Buffalo biotech companies, and a series of public lectures.
Also, science students from middle schools throughout the community have gotten previews of the operations at the Center of Excellence through a series of field trips enlightening them on the work of bioinformatics and life sciences.
A life-sciences hub
A major research center of the University at Buffalo, the Center of Excellence works in close collaboration with research partners Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) and Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute (HWI).
Along with the new HWI building, which opened in May 2005, the Center of Excellence and RPCI's Center for Genetics and Pharmacology constitute the Buffalo Life Sciences Complex on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
The fact that the three buildings will be connected—an overhead bridge to be constructed will link the Center of Excellence with the HWI building—underscores the close collaboration that will occur between the scientists who work in them in the development and commercialization of new drugs, therapies, and biomedical devices. Working together, the three institutions will draw upon their renowned research strengths in genomics, structural biology, and bioinformatics, as well as core strengths in cancer biology, neurology, virology, and pharmacology.
By harnessing existing research and computational strengths, complemented by the recruitment of world-class scientists and an aggressive plan for commercialization of research discoveries, UB and the Buffalo Niagara region are positioned uniquely to move forward among several academic institutions and U.S. regions pursuing development of life-sciences hubs, according to Bruce Holm, UB senior vice provost and executive director of the Center of Excellence.
The collaborative approach of three research institutions—aided by the open-lab design of the new buildings, which breaks down physical and operational barriers to facilitate research collaboration—is unique among other biotech efforts nationally, Holm says.
"High through-put collaboration is one way we stand out," Holm explains. "We're able to accelerate the standard academic procedure for research and development, which makes us very attractive to industry. In a sense, the buildings are a vessel for rethinking how research institutions produce science.
"When you combine that with the high quality of life in this region and the growing national awareness of what we are accomplishing here, you have a formula for success that has tremendous potential."