BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo today announced it is
adding seven new units to the core component of bioinformatics to
enhance its Buffalo Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life
Bruce A. Holm, Ph.D., who as a senior vice provost has been UB's
point person on many of its high-technology and life-sciences
projects, has been appointed executive director of the center.
In addition to bioinformatics, Holm will oversee units in
molecular targeting, gene expression, proteomics and structural
biology, disease modeling, and pharmacokinetics, as well as a
clinical research center and an Interventional Population Health
With the expansion, the number of UB faculty researchers
affiliated with the center will increase from its present core of
six outstanding faculty members, to 40-50 current faculty members
working across multidisciplinary lines, including scientists from
Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Hauptman-Woodward Medical
Research Institute (HWI). The center will continue to recruit
aggressively for key scientific personnel.
"The expansion and enhancement of the Buffalo Center of
Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences is consistent with
the vision of Gov. George Pataki when he proposed its creation
three years ago and a major step in providing an integrated
approach for creating a life-sciences economy for Buffalo Niagara,"
said UB President John B. Simpson, Ph.D.
"The expanded center will draw upon existing faculty and
research strengths at the university and within its professional
schools, as well as at our partner institutions. UB's collaboration
with Roswell Park and Hauptman-Woodward is deep-rooted; new
collaborative efforts realized through the expanded center will
strengthen all three institutions in fulfilling their
Simpson noted that more than $290 million has been obtained in
support of the Buffalo Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and
Life Sciences from state, federal and philanthropic sources, as
well as from business partners.
"By expanding the scope of the center, these funds will be used
optimally through leveraging of the resources and capabilities of
the university and its life-sciences partners and increasing
synergies among scientists affiliated with the center," Simpson
He noted that work is on schedule for the new home for the
center, scheduled to open late next year at Ellicott and Virginia
streets. The structure -- along with Roswell Park's new Center for
Genetics and Pharmacology and HWI's Structural Biology Research
Center -- is under construction as part of the Buffalo Life
Sciences Complex in the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
Simpson noted, "It's a difficult and challenging proposition to
expand a region's economic base from one anchored traditionally in
manufacturing to one that includes a life-sciences foundation;
experience in other parts of the U.S. has shown it takes years for
this occur. This broader conceptualization of the center's scope
and structure we are announcing today is designed to facilitate
that process and is consistent with earlier long-term plans for
fostering a strong life-sciences economy in the Buffalo-Niagara
Robert J. Genco, D.D.S., Ph.D., UB interim provost and head of
its Office of Science, Technology and Economic Outreach (STOR), the
goal of which is to bolster technology transfer and economic
development in the region, had high praise for Holm.
Genco said, "The newly expanded Center of Excellence announced
by the President Simpson needs a science administrator to oversee
the design and utilization of the new bioinformatics building, to
continue recruiting scientists, to obtain further research and
development funds and to champion the commercialization of Center
of Excellence discoveries for the benefit of society and for
regional economic development. Bruce Holm is well-suited to lead
Genco added that Holm has personal experience with successful
commercialization of research results -- his research on
therapeutics for acute lung disease secured two patents that
resulted in the development of Infasurf®, a drug that has
helped reduce the rate of mortality for pre-term newborns.
"Bruce has served admirably as the university's point person on
many of its high-technology/bio-technology projects since his
appointment in January 2002 as a senior vice provost," Genco noted.
"He has been the chief administrator in the provost's office for
the Center of Excellence, Strategically Targeted Academic Research
(STAR) Center for Disease Modeling and Therapy Discovery, and the
Center for Advanced Biomedical and Bioengineering Technologies
(CAT). He also has worked closely with UB's Office of Science,
Technology and Economic Outreach."
Genco said Holm also has worked collaboratively and successfully
with UB's academic partners, including Roswell Park and HWI, and
with the university's partners in the local business community and
with major corporations.
Holm is a professor in the departments of Pediatrics, Obstetrics
and Gynecology, and Pharmacology and Toxicology in the UB School of
Medicine and Biomedical Science. As an associate
dean of the medical school, he oversaw the design, equipping and
use of the Biomedical Research Building on UB's South (Main Street)
He also has been an integral part of the economic and scientific
development of the Center for Excellence and has been instrumental
in the recruitment of major corporate partnerships and researchers.
He recently received a Partners in Leadership Award from the State
University of New York for his role in the center's
An honors graduate of the University of Iowa, where he earned a
bachelor's degree in biochemistry, Holm earned a master's degree
and doctorate in toxicology from the University of Rochester School
of Medicine in 1985 and 1987, respectively.
Gov. George E. Pataki proposed creation of the Center of
Excellence in 2001 as an engine to spur economic development and
create thousands of high-technology jobs, helping to lay the
foundation for a new life-sciences economy for Buffalo Niagara. It
was proposed along with creation of other Centers of Excellence in
Albany, Syracuse, Rochester and Long Island as part of an effort to
leverage the state's expertise in high technologies, attract new
businesses and improve the state's economy. Construction of the
structure at Ellicott and Virginia streets is being funded through
$52 million in state funds.
Through the efforts of Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds, Sen. Hillary
Rodham Clinton, Sen. Charles E. Schumer and Rep. Jack Quinn, the
Center of Excellence has to date accumulated $20.4 million in
federal funding, well on the way to meeting the long-range goal of
$25 million in federal funding for the project.
Major philanthropic support also has been received by the Center
of Excellence. The John R. Oishei Foundation has invested more than
$3.5 million in the recruitment, salaries and research for
scientists at the center, as well as $3.5 million each to Roswell
Park and HWI for the buildings they are constructing within the
Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. The Margaret L. Wendt Foundation
has awarded grants totaling $4.5 million to the UB, HWI and Roswell
Park to encourage collaboration and reinforce connectivity among
the three buildings.
An important aspect of the Buffalo Center of Excellence in
Bioinformatics and Life Sciences is its interaction with industrial
partners that will facilitate commercialization efforts of its
discoveries, job creation and joint research opportunities. The
companies include Invitrogen, Cognigen, General Dynamics, General
Electric, Amersham, 3M, SGI, IBM, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Sun Micro
Systems, Informax and AT&T.
UB officials are working closely with the business community
and key organizations -- including BuffLink, Buffalo Niagara
Enterprise and Buffalo Niagara Partnership -- to facilitate and
accelerate the results from technology transfer and
commercialization of cutting-edge research by UB scientists,
including those affiliated with the Center of Excellence, leading
to new jobs in Buffalo with existing biotech firms and ones being
attracted to the area by its emerging life-sciences economy.