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National Grid Invests in UB Biomedical Engineering

By Mary Cochrane

Release Date: April 30, 2010

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- National Grid is investing $250,000 to develop a cutting-edge facility to support virtual partnerships with biomedical engineering at the University at Buffalo School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The grant will also support applied research collaborations and technology transfer opportunities between the university and industry to help New York businesses gain competitive technological advantages.

The Access Grid facility will help to stimulate collaborative research and conferencing between UB Department of Biomedical Engineering faculty members and the biomedical industrial community, including Western New York's growing life sciences sector. Biomedical engineering is a relatively new area of research that applies engineering techniques to the medical field.

Access Grid is an international video teleconferencing system that allows real-time interaction between users at two or more sites. Originally developed at the Argonne National Laboratory, Access Grid supports large-format, multimedia displays, presentation and interactive environments, and interfaces with computing middleware and visualization environments.

"The effort to promote partnerships between the university and area industry is an appropriate investment that will provide long-term benefits for the community, our customers, UB and our company," said Tom King, president of National Grid in the U.S. "At the same time, this grant builds on National Grid's commitment to support science and engineering education in Western New York and all across the areas we serve."

The grant is being provided through National Grid's Strategic Economic Development Outreach program, one of many economic development programs available in the company's upstate New York service area. Information on these programs can be found at http://www.shovelready.com.

The UB Access Grid facility will provide videoconferencing for research collaborations between sites on all three UB campuses and industrial partners within the eight counties of Western New York. National Grid's grant also will support the UB bachelor of science degree program in biomedical engineering, which will enroll its first students for the fall 2010 semester.

"National Grid has been a longstanding and generous supporter of UB," said Harvey G. Stenger Jr., dean of UB Engineering. "This grant to support the work of UB biomedical engineering will be a powerful catalyst for the economic growth of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and Western New York life sciences companies."

The UB Department of Biomedical Engineering, established in 2008 as a joint venture between the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, is an outcome of long-standing and productive collaborations between researchers in both schools. The department focuses on the development of groundbreaking biomedical devices and therapies that address society's most pressing health concerns, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.

The department provides access to a skilled workforce, biomedical expertise, advanced facilities and the translation of new biomedical technologies to the marketplace. It also supports Western New York's strong medical device industry by spinning off new technologies and businesses.

"National Grid's support will advance several UB research strengths identified by the UB 2020 plan, including those in health and wellness across the lifespan and information and computing technology," said UB President John B. Simpson. "The benefits of this support will extend far beyond our campus, and will help to boost UB's efforts to increase the already substantial economic impact of its research activities."

UB 2020 is the university's strategic plan for achieving academic excellence through focused research, growth and transformation of learning spaces and infrastructure. National Grid is one of the university's most generous supporters and trusted advisors. The company is a member of the University Pillars, whose members have given charitable gifts in excess of $1 million. In 2005, UB honored National Grid with its "Vital Partner Award" in recognition of its longstanding support. UB and National Grid have collaborated extensively on joint research projects, student recruitment and continuing and distance education.

National Grid is an international energy delivery company that delivers electricity to approximately 3.3 million customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island, and manages the electricity network on Long Island under an agreement with the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA). It is the largest distributor of natural gas in the northeastern U.S., serving approximately 3.4 million customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island. National Grid also owns over 4,000 megawatts of contracted electricity generation that provides power to more than 1 million LIPA customers.