UB’s Buffalo Institute for Genomics’ partnership spurs growth in Buffalo’s life sciences industry

A tree frames a picture of the UB Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences .

UB's Buffalo Institute for Genomics and Data Analytics, located within the UB Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences.

By Jessica Szklany

Release Date: April 21, 2021

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Christina Orsi.
“The collaboration with Thermo Fisher underscores the positive impact academic and private partnerships can have when they leverage each other’s strengths. Together, we help find solutions for complex scientific challenges, contribute to innovation, and spur economic growth and workforce development in the Buffalo Niagara region. ”
Christina Orsi, associate vice president for economic development
University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The University at Buffalo’s Buffalo Institute for Genomics and Data Analytics (BIG) has partnered with Thermo Fisher Scientific through a New York State-funded economic incentive program designed to generate jobs and expand the local life sciences sector. The agreement includes up to $4.8 million to support the purchase of state-of-the-art equipment, fund research programs that will be conducted by UB faculty and provide access to laboratory space at the UB Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences (CBLS) for Thermo Fisher. The initiative has generated more than 250 jobs for the Buffalo biotechnology sector since BIG and Thermo Fisher initiated their partnership in 2019.

Partnership built on years of collaboration

The BIG program, supported by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion initiative, was created to leverage and enhance the university’s expertise and the latest technologies in genomics, proteomics and big data analytics to form public-private collaborative partnerships to advance life science innovations. BIG began by making investments in technology focus areas such as UB’s Proteomics and Bioanalysis Core (PBC) and the Genomics and Bioinformatics Core (GBC) within the CBLS. The investments enabled these facilities to house some of the most high-end, cutting-edge research technologies in the region, resulting in initial engagement with Thermo Fisher’s bioproduction business.

The collaboration supports research, development and manufacturing innovations, which contribute to Thermo Fisher’s innovation roadmap. Officials from Thermo Fisher also serve in an advisory capacity on various UB committees and participate in events that promote and foster university-industry cooperation. Additionally, UB students gain critical experience through internships, research programs and other experiential opportunities that come from partnering with a company that is at the forefront of promoting STEM education and inspiring students through their best-in-class mentorship programs.

“Through our BIG industry partners, we are set to exceed the commitment to create 490 jobs in Erie County by 2023. Thanks to Governor Cuomo’s vision and state investments, UB is building strong university-industry, innovation-based partnerships to positively impact society and our economy,” says Christina Orsi, UB associate vice president for economic development.

She adds: “The collaboration with Thermo Fisher underscores the positive impact academic and private partnerships can have when they leverage each other’s strengths. Together, we help find solutions for complex scientific challenges, contribute to innovation, and spur economic growth and workforce development in the Buffalo Niagara region.”

The company’s Grand Island location manufactures products and reagents designed to support cell culture processes, which are used in the development of biologic drugs such as antibodies, gene and cell therapies or vaccines.

“Thermo Fisher is committed to accelerating innovation in the life sciences industry and to having a positive impact in each of the communities where it operates,” said Kate Torchilin, vice president and general manager for cell culture and cell therapy at Thermo Fisher. “The company has a long history in the greater Buffalo area and in collaborating with UB to recruit graduates. We look forward to growing our capabilities through breakthrough research and development in the region.”

“New York’s strategic support of BIG helped power the successful partnership between UB and Thermo Fisher Scientific,” said Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler. “This university-industry collaboration is speeding research-to-market innovations and accelerating advances in Western New York’s life sciences sector.”

 About BIG

The Buffalo Institute for Genomics and Big Data Analytics (BIG) is part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s economic development effort to advance the Buffalo Niagara region as a center for bioinformatics and life sciences research. BIG helps big data and life sciences companies reach growth milestones at an accelerated rate by connecting them to technical expertise, talent, state-of-the-art facilities and access to in-house biomedical and bioinformatics experts, high-tech genomic and proteomic equipment, big data computing solutions and funding that advances molecular diagnostics tests, companion diagnostics, therapeutic agents and precision medicine techniques to tailor treatment options and improve health outcomes.

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