Research Award: National Science Foundation

Double Helix at Squire Hall on South Campus

Next spring, students at local high schools will dive into the study of the marine bacterium Kytococcus sedentarius, thanks to a $1.1 million National Science Foundation grant to UB.

Stephen Koury and his colleagues in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, received the grant to educate regional high school teachers and recruit high school students to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. The new program focuses on bioinformatics, an interdisciplinary field that uses software tools to store, retrieve, organize and analyze biologic information. Bioinformatics is a field of rapid growth that provides tools for better health care through improvement in prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment of diseases.

Koury, research assistant professor in the Department of Biotechnical and Clinical Laboratory Sciences, notes that new jobs on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus likely will require training in biotechnology and bioinformatics; the new program will provide a pipeline for educator and student recruitment, training and mentorship in STEM fields at the high school level.

“For us to be successful, we need to create the environment where children not only want to get involved, but want to stay in Buffalo,” says Norma Nowak, professor of biochemistry, director of science and technology at UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, and associate professor of oncology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. “This needs to be the spark that lights the fire.”