Toronto Company Locates In Buffalo Niagara to Partner with Region's Biotech Industry

Chooses Buffalo Niagara over Philadelphia; Washington, D.C., and New Jersey locations

Release Date: January 22, 2007

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- In what can be described as a "win" for Buffalo Niagara's emerging biotechnology industry, an international pharmaceutical consulting company has relocated an office to the region to establish partnerships with the University at Buffalo and benefit from the region's biotech assets.

PharmIdeas, a provider of economic, data and clinical research analysis for pharmaceutical companies worldwide, opened for business last week at the Northpointe business park in Amherst, relocating from North Carolina.

The company selected Buffalo Niagara over Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and New Jersey locations because of the region's growing biotech industry and extensive intellectual assets, particularly UB and the university's New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences in downtown Buffalo, according to PhamIdeas president and founder Michael Iskedjian.

"UB offers the type of scientific background and support we were looking for to expand the research we do," Iskedjian explains. "I see a lot of potential for two-way collaboration and I'm eager to interact with the Center of Excellence. It's a very high-tech building with a very interesting collaborative approach. It has so many diverse researchers in health care all working together under one roof."

"This open-mindedness to biotech innovation is very exciting," he adds. "It's a very encouraging sign for growth of biotech in Buffalo."

Founded in 1994, PhamIdeas is headquartered near Toronto in Oakville, Ontario, and has another office in Ottawa. Three employees currently work at the company's new office in Amherst, but Iskedjian says he envisions hiring up to seven additional employees in the next three to four years. Western New York native Amy Hayward is serving as PharmIdeas' assistant director in the Amherst office.

"I see a lot of potential for finding local talent for the type of research we do," Iskedjian says. "I'd like to develop a fellowship program to tap into the talents of UB graduate students. This would benefit our work and would give students tremendous insight into both the business and research sides of the pharmaceutical industry."

Another factor in Iskedjian's decision to relocate, he says, was the opportunity to collaborate with Uniform Data System (UDS), a company founded by Carl Granger, M.D., UB professor of rehabilitation medicine. Uniform Data System, also located in Amherst's Northpointe business park, has developed a widely used system for documenting the severity of patient disability and outcomes of health-care interventions.

"Together with Uniform Data System, I think we can develop a unique approach to measuring patients' health and quality of life," Iskedjian says.

PharmIdeas' collaboration with UB will include joint research and training efforts with faculty and students in UB's School of Public Health and Health Professions and School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Projects will focus on pharmacoeconomics -- comparing the value of one drug or drug therapy to another -- and pharmacoepidemiology -- studying the use and effects of drugs already on the market. Researchers from both UB schools have been involved in related research at the Center of Excellence, which is the hub of UB's biotech research and commercialization activities focused on creation of new medical technologies to alleviate human suffering.

Iskedjian and Thomas Einarson, Ph.D., the company's vice president for scientific affairs and associate professor at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy in the University of Toronto, will deliver a seminar on pharmacoeconomics and outcomes research this semester to students and faculty in UB's Department of Social and Preventive Medicine. Iskedjian may receive an adjunct faculty appointment in the School of Public Health and Health Professions, according to the school's dean, Maurizio Trevisan, M.D.

"Working with PhamIdeas will provide all of UB's health-science disciplines with great opportunities to partner in student training and research," Trevisan explains. "The company's move here shows that UB, as a leading research university, and the Center for Excellence can attract opportunities that are important for our research and educational mission, and which create job opportunities for our community."

Marnie LaVigne, Ph.D., director of business development at the Center of Excellence, says PharmIdeas' new relationship with UB is an example of industry-academic partnerships that have fueled growth of biotech industries in other regions. PharmIdeas' presence in Buffalo Niagara will raise awareness about the region's biotech resources, particularly its biomedical informatics expertise, among major pharmaceutical companies, she says.

"The company's bi-national reach will also aid the effort to build a collaborative biotech corridor between Buffalo and Southern Ontario," LaVigne adds.

PhamIdeasis located at 25 Northpointe Parkway, Suite 700, in Amherst. Companies or individuals wishing to find out more about the company can call Hayward at 716-636-9500 or visit the company's Web site at

The New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences was created on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus in Buffalo in 2002 as part of more than $200 million dollars in investment from state, federal, industry and philanthropic sources to create a hub of life sciences expertise and innovation in upstate New York. Center of Excellence research institutions have a history of more than 100 years. UB, as the lead academic organization, works with research partners, Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York. UB's School of Public Health and Health Professions is one of five schools that constitute UB's Academic Health Center.

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