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UB faculty involved in SUNY Health Network of Excellence projects

The SUNY Health Network of Excellence was created to engage and maximize the system’s diverse strengths in biomedical research.


Published July 10, 2014

“This investment in SUNY campuses will continue New York’s rich tradition of leading medical advancement for the global community.”
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo

Eight UB faculty members are principal investigators or co-principal investigators on research projects receiving $900,000 in the first round of funding through SUNY’s Health Network of Excellence.

The SUNY Health Network of Excellence, one of five networks throughout SUNY, was created to engage and maximize the system’s diverse strengths in biomedical research. The six projects that were funded involve students and faculty on nine SUNY campuses — including UB — and their private-sector partners, and will research causes, treatments and cures for such diseases as tuberculosis and brain disorders including stroke, traumatic brain injury and Alzheimer’s disease. Each project will receive approximately $150,000 in this first round of funding.

“This investment in SUNY campuses will continue New York’s rich tradition of leading medical advancement for the global community,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in announcing the grants. “The funding will provide scientists the infrastructure and talent that they need in order to continue conducting world-class research in the state and establishes yet another opportunity for colleges and universities to bolster upstate New York’s growing medical economy.”

Peter Winkelstein, professor of pediatrics in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and executive director of the medical school’s Institute for Healthcare Informatics, is principal investigator on a project designed to position SUNY as a leader in health care “big data” research through development of a Clinical Integrated Data Repository (CIDR) of electronic health record data generated by all SUNY entities that provide clinical care. Among co-investigators on the project, titled “Planning Grant to Produce a Road Map to the Creation of the SUNY-wide Centralized ‘Big Data’ Repository (CIDR) of SUNY Electronic Health Record Data,” are UB faculty members Werner Ceusters, professor of psychiatry, and Peter Elkin, professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics.

UB faculty members will serve as co-investigators on four other projects. They are:

  • “Exploration of Lipid Transport Proteins as Drug Targets for the Treatment of Tuberculosis.” This project will work to identify novel drug targets and inhibitors to eradicate tuberculosis, which kills approximately 1.2 million people each year. G. Ekin Atilla-Gokcumen, assistant professor, Department of Chemistry, is a co-investigator.
  • “Development of Hand-held Biosensors for Rapid Diagnosis and Study of Neural Disease and Neurotoxins.” This project will focus on the creation and use of a rapid and highly sensitive hand-held biosensor platform that will advance clinical health care and accelerate diagnosis and detection of human neural pathologies, including stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and traumatic brain injury. Co-investigators include Elad Levy, professor and chair, Department of Neurosurgery.
  • “Drug Discovery and Development of Novel Antibiotics against Gram-positive Pathogens.” This project aims to discover and develop new drugs and antibiotics to combat Gram-positive pathogens, or bacteria that cause serious infection or disease.  Among the co-investigators are Paul Kostyniak, professor, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, and director, Toxicology Research Center, and Patricia A. Masso-Welch, associate professor, Department of Biotechnical and Clinical Laboratory Sciences.
  • “SUNY Network Aging Partnership (SNAP): Investigating Frailty and Enhancing Lifespan across the Health Spectrum.” This project will establish the SUNY Network Aging Partnership (SNAP) to coordinate collaborative research across SUNY’s four medical universities to facilitate competition for scientific funding, accelerate publication of research projects, and recruit and mentor trainees. The partnership will investigate frailty and ways to enhance lifespan across the health spectrum. Bruce R. Troen, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, is a co-investigator.

SUNY Health and the other SUNY Networks of Excellence were established within the past year to increase research collaborations and spur commercialization activities between SUNY and industry partners in core research areas. The other networks are SUNY 4E (energy, environment, education, economics); SUNY Brain; SUNY Materials and Advanced Manufacturing; and SUNY Arts and Humanities.