NYSTAR grants key to recruitment
New hires part of Center of Excellence
By ELLEN GOLDBAUM
Two new scientists, both with groundbreaking research programs and active entrepreneurial backgrounds, have been recruited to UB's New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, thanks to $1.2 million in Faculty Development awards from the New York State Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research (NYSTAR).
Vipin Chaudhary has been recruited from Wayne State University to the Department of Computer Science and Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Nejat Egilmez has been recruited from the University of Louisville and its James Graham Brown Cancer Center to the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
The grants were two of nine that NYSTAR awarded recently in order to assist institutions of higher education in New York State to recruit and retain world-class scientists, helping to ensure the continued long-term growth of the state's high-technology industries.
"I would like to congratulate the University at Buffalo for winning two prestigious Faculty Development awards," said Michael J. Relyea, executive director of NYSTAR. "These awards will help the university commercialize new technologies and create new jobs and companies in the region."
The NYSTAR funds provided UB with $700,000 to recruit Chaudhary to design and build a high-performance computing platform to enable both high-end medical computing and computer-assisted surgery.
UB also was awarded $503,200 to hire Egilmez, who is engaged in the development of vaccines that will reactivate the human body's immune system to specifically recognize and target surface antigens in cancer cells.
"Drs. Chaudhary and Egilmez are two of the newest faculty recruits in the Center of Excellence and both have track records for strong entrepreneurial activity," said Bruce A. Holm, senior vice provost and executive director of the Center of Excellence. "The NYSTAR awards were extremely helpful in putting together the necessary recruitment offers."
Chaudhary, who joined the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences this fall, has expertise in computer-assisted surgery, medical imaging and biomedical engineering. He recently established his own start-up technology company, Micass L.L.C., to support and market his computer-assisted neurosurgery software.
Chaudhary also is known for his pioneering work in parallel and distributed computing, image processing, security and scientific computing. His research is funded by the National Science Foundation, U.S. Army Research Labs, Cray Research Inc., IBM and Ford Motor Co. He serves on the technical advisory boards of several private companies. (For details about Chaudhary's research, see profile in this issue.)
Most recently, he served as associate professor in the Department of Computer Science at Wayne State University, where he was principal investigator of a multidisciplinary effort called the "Integration of Bioengineering & Biocomputing to Advance Michigan Computer-Assisted Surgery Research." Chaudhary also served as director of the university's Institute for Scientific Computing.
Chaudhary earned his master's and doctoral degrees in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Texas-Austin.
Egilmez is returning this month to UB and to Western New York, where he has family. He earned his doctoral degree from UB and served as a cancer research scientist in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and in the Department of Immunology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
His area of expertise is in tumor immunobiology and his goal is to develop clinically feasible cancer immunotherapy strategies. In ongoing studies, he has discovered a method of generating permanent immunity to specific types of tumors and eradicating disease in certain types of laboratory mice.
At UB, Egilmez plans to begin stage-one clinical trials for the development of these cancer "vaccines" with support from TherapyX, a company he and a partner founded in Buffalo that is funded by a $2.6 million award from the National Cancer Institute.