Research News

UB establishes Center for Integrated Global Biomedical Sciences

Gene Morse and student in his lab.

A student consults with Gene Morse (left), director of the new Center for Integrated Global Biomedical Sciences, in his lab. Photo: Douglas Levere

By MARCENE ROBINSON

Published June 16, 2016

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“This new center that builds on several UB strengths will explore ways to develop and deliver drugs to prevent and treat some of the most pressing diseases that threaten human lives, keeping in mind the added challenges in treating these diseases in developing societies. ”
Venu Govindaraju, vice president for research and economic development

UB has established a new international hub for addressing global health challenges through pharmacological research and drug and vaccine development.

The new Center for Integrated Global Biomedical Sciences (CIGBS), directed by Gene Morse, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, brings together faculty from research, clinical and applied programs to tackle the world’s most pressing health issues.

With UB faculty from disciplines ranging from pharmacology and medicine to engineering and chemistry, the center will use education and research to promote drug discovery, advance nanotechnology applications and develop sustainable business models for products and services for the global health market.

“Given the enormity of global health issues, especially with new and emerging diseases, UB has adopted a multi-pronged approach to address these formidable challenges,” says Venu Govindaraju, vice president for research and economic development, and SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

“This new center that builds on several UB strengths will explore ways to develop and deliver drugs to prevent and treat some of the most pressing diseases that threaten human lives, keeping in mind the added challenges in treating these diseases in developing societies.”

Through its collaborations with centers and institutes within UB and around the world, the CIGBS will strengthen UB’s leadership among an international community of scholars.

Partners include the SUNY Global Health Institute (GHI); the Global Virus Network; the National Institutes of Health AIDS Clinical Trials Group; the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences (CBLS); the UB Communities of Excellence; the UB Institute for Lasers, Photonics and Biophotonics; the UB Clinical and Translational Research Center; the UB Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR) and more.

Students within the center will gain the opportunity to travel to other nations to conduct research from the perspective of a country with limited resources and participate in learning experiences that expand their perspectives as members of the global community.

“Many health challenges are presented to the public as local versus global,” says Morse, also co-director of SUNY GHI.

“Developing countries are faced with financial limitations that influence the availability of new medicine or diagnostic tests. The research approaches that we develop in the U.S. would have the same application for patients with the same disease in other geographic regions but are often unavailable due to financial or supply chain-related hurdles.”

Much of the center’s current research is targeted toward viral infections and combatting HIV and Hepatitis C, says Morse, who notes that nearly 70 percent of people affected by HIV live in Africa.

The CIGBS already is engaged in a number of research projects with the University of Zimbabwe, including the UB-UZ HIV Research Training Program, which will help train future HIV pharmacology and nanotechnology researchers in the country at a time when pharmaceutical company development, therapeutic drug monitoring and precision medicine are high priority areas.

The center also is partnering with researchers, hospitals and support groups in Zimbabwe to use social media for patient psychosocial support and to promote medication adherence and nutrition awareness.

Other research projects will focus on health disparities and building biomedical research capacity in the Caribbean.

The CIGBS will partner with the University of the West Indies, the Jamaica Center for Infectious Diseases Research, SUNY GHI and the Buffalo Jamaica Innovation Enterprise to study antibiotic resistance, the Chikungunya and Zika viruses, viral hepatitis and cannabinoid drug development; produce nanomedicine from natural compounds with anticancer properties; and find treatments for diabetes and kidney, digestive and liver disease.

The research completed through these partnerships will help the CIGBS collaborate with SUNY biotechnology incubators and industry partners to foster novel drug development and improve regulatory approval requirements within both New York and developing countries.

Within the U.S., the CIGBS will collaborate with the Mount Sinai Beth Israel’s Asian Services Center and the Peter Sheehan Diabetes Care Foundation to promote medication safety for New York City patients with diabetes, and with CCS Healthcare in Buffalo to encourage patient safety.

The CIGBS also will serve as the coordinating center for the Western New York Science Technology Engineering Math Hub of the Empire State STEM Learning Network, coordinating K-12 educational outreach programs that may lead to expanded career opportunities. The center will develop similar partnerships for STEM and biomedical sciences programs in other nations to build workforce pipelines.

Along with Morse, the CIGBS scientific leadership committee includes:

  • Timothy Murphy, SUNY Distinguished Professor and senior associate dean for clinical and translational research in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
  • Paras N. Prasad, SUNY Distinguished Professor and Samuel P. Capen Chair in the Department of Chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences.
  • Stanley Schwartz, UB Distinguished Professor and chief of the Division of Allergy-Immunology and Rheumatology in the UB medical school and chief of medicine at Kaleida Health.
  • Andrew Talal, UB professor of medicine and director of the UB Center for Clinical Care and Research in Liver Disease.
  • Peter Horvath, associate professor in the Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, School of Public Health and Health Professions.
  • Ranga Setlur, principal research scientist at the UB Center for Unified Biometrics and Sensors and the Center of Excellence for Document Analysis and Recognition.
  • Charles Chiedza Maponga, director of the UZ Center of Excellence in Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and research assistant professor in the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
  • Terrence Forrester, professor at the University of the West Indies.
  • James Hakim, professor at the University of Zimbabwe.
  • John D. Lindo, deputy dean for research at the University of the West Indies.

For more information about the CIGBS, visit its website.

READER COMMENT

Congratulations to Dr. Gene Morse! I am proud of him and the entire UB CIGBS team. I would wish you luck, but I know it will be your competency and compassion that will assure the success of this new endeavor. I am proud to say I am a UB STEM Alum.

 

Michael R Weekes