BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A major grant from the John R. Oishei
Foundation will help the University at Buffalo's New York State
Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences expand its
bioinformatics and computational biology expertise on the Buffalo
Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC) downtown.
The foundation funding, totaling $850,000 over two years, will
help fund new tenure-track faculty members and computational
support staff in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
These researchers will have offices and laboratory space at the
Center of Excellence, which houses the university's core
supercomputing and genomics facilities, both of which have
benefited from significant upgrades since 2010.
The growth of the bioinformatics hub complements UB's plan to
relocate the medical school to the BNMC, a move that will bring
students and faculty closer to research and clinical partners such
as Kaleida Health.
"This generous support from the Oishei Foundation helps to
advance the objectives of the UB 2020 plan for academic
excellence," said Michael Cain, vice president for health sciences
and dean of the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. "The
expansion of the bioinformatics hub will contribute to a vibrant
medical campus, and improve Western New York's ability to conduct
translational research, moving scientific discoveries from
laboratories to practical applications to improve human
"The Center of Excellence has done an outstanding job securing
the resources necessary to build and equip a state-of-the-art
facility, and we're pleased to support the key academic
professionals needed to staff it," said Robert D. Gioia, president
of the Oishei Foundation. "We fully expect that this support will
enable the Center of Excellence to retain computational work that
was being sent elsewhere, and to build a core of local projects,
further expanding the promise of the BNMC."
The new recruits the Oishei Foundation is helping to fund will
be experts in computational biology and bioinformatics, a field
that combines computer science and biology to better understand
disease mechanisms, resulting in new diagnostic tests and patient
Their research, combined with the ongoing work of UB's
Department of Biostatistics, will provide valuable expertise to a
variety of researchers and companies in the Buffalo area.
As UB's research capacity in bioinformatics grows, area
scientists and firms will continue to partner with the university
on projects that will fuel growth of the region's life sciences
industry. Expanding the university's capabilities will also
position Buffalo Niagara to mine and analyze data for collaborators
around the country and world with the goal of explaining how given
sets of genes or proteins are involved in disease.
"This expertise is critical to our efforts to understand human
disease at its most basic, molecular level," said Norma Nowak,
director of science and technology at the Center of Excellence and
a UB faculty member. "It enables us to diagnose and define disease
by the causative molecular alterations that lead to the symptoms
traditionally utilized to make a diagnosis.
"It is a vital piece of the puzzle that the university --
through both the Center of Excellence and the new Clinical and
Translational Research Center under construction in downtown
Buffalo -- is working to assemble with partners including Roswell
Park Cancer Institute, Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute
and the region's life sciences industry," added Nowak, who led
efforts to apply for the Oishei Foundation grant.
A stronger bioinformatics hub will help attract additional
talent to Buffalo Niagara, creating opportunities for students to
engage in cutting-edge science, and supporting life sciences
recruitment, professional development and the implementation of
large, multi-institution research projects.
The Oishei funding complements recent upgrades to UB's core
supercomputing and genomics facilities. Last year, the Center for
Computational Research (CCR) underwent a more than $9 million
expansion that allowed the facility to more than quadruple the
power of data processing, to 60 to 70 teraflops, and increase
electronic memory by more than 20 times, to 600 terabytes of
Additions included the installation of novel computing
architectures that enable both data-driven science and
computationally demanding modeling and simulation. Money for the
improvements came from competitive grants that the National
Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation and New
York State Energy Research and Development Authority awarded to UB
More recently, the Center of Excellence's Next-Generation
Sequencing and Expression Analysis Core Facility acquired an
important new piece of equipment: An illumina HiSeq 2000, an
instrument so powerful it can sequence a human genome in a
The $700,000 HiSeq instrument, which arrived in January, can
facilitate projects including whole-genome and candidate region
sequencing, transcriptome analysis, small RNA discovery,
methylation profiling, and protein-nucleic acid interaction
analysis on a genome-wide scale. A grant from the National Center
for Research Resources at the NIH funded the HiSeq purchase.
The John R. Oishei Foundation strives to be a catalyst for
change to enhance economic vitality and the quality of life for the
Buffalo Niagara region. The foundation was established in 1940 by
John R. Oishei, founder of Trico Products Corporation.
Researchers at UB's New York State Center of Excellence in
Bioinformatics and Life Sciences study human disease to develop
diagnostic tools and therapeutic interventions, preventative
treatments, and other disease management devices and processes that
improve health and well-being. The center's scientific mission goes
hand in hand with its charge to drive economic development in
Buffalo Niagara and beyond, while facilitating partnerships among
government, academia and industry.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public
university, a flagship institution in the State University of New
York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's
more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through
more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree
programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of
the Association of American Universities.