Cuomo to bring genome center to Buffalo

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ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) – In his State of the State address Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced plans to establish a genome center in Buffalo.

Cuomo wants to bring the $100 million research facility to Buffalo’s growing medical campus, to link the center to the University at Buffalo and Roswell Park Cancer Institute. The project would unite the facilities in what is said to be cutting-edge medical research that could in the long-term save lives. In the short-term, lawmakers say it could mean up to 600 new jobs.

“Genomic medicine is the next frontier in modern medicine, and we believe we can lead the way,” Cuomo said.

The genomic research center would be linked to the Genome Center in Manhattan and the CNSE Nano Center in Albany.

Cuomo said, “It’s creating hundreds of jobs in an entirely new industry for Western New York, so let’s get at it.”

Genomic medicine involves trying to understand how human body operates, on the smallest scale, by studying individual genes.

Dr. Lawrence Wrabetz of the UB Hunter James Kelly Research Institute said, “We would use that information to tailor their treatment. To know whether they’re likely to develop certain diseases, how badly would those diseases appear, and how might they respond to different treatments.”

Dr. Peter Winkelstein of the UB Institute for Healthcare Informatics added, “So can we do a better job of early detection of a disease? Because as you know, if we can detect a disease or a condition early, we can intervene early, and we can improve the outcomes.”

State lawmakers say it will mean an immediate investment of up to $100 million in the Medical Campus.

Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer said, “Capital, to really set up the computer systems to be able to participate in this project.”

Sen. Tim Kennedy added, “And it’s going to help to relocate five different companies right into the City of Buffalo, and create 600 new jobs.”

UB has named four of those companies. Two are already based in Buffalo, and plan to expand. The other two are AESKU.Diagnostics, based in Germany, and Lineagen, based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Both reportedly want to set up new medical diagnostic operations in Western New York.

Here is the full list of facilities:

  • Computer Task Group (CTG) – a Buffalo-based information technology solutions firm with global business that develops innovative health care products and services
  • Empire Genomics – created in 2006 by UB faculty member Norma Jean Nowak, PhD, a recognized leader in the field of genomics, from research started at Roswell Park Cancer Institute
  • AESKU.Diagnostics – a Germany-based life sciences firm seeking to establish a new operation in medical diagnostics in Western New York
  • Lineagen – a Salt Lake City, Utah-based firm seeking to expand its medical diagnostics business via co-location in Western New York

Sen. Kennedy said, “We’re working towards job creation, we’re working towards giving opportunities where they have existed before in the City of Buffalo, and really reversing the brain drain that has impacted so many generations.”

“The Governor pledged, a couple years ago, to try to make up for the lack of investment in our region. And I think that this is part of that effort,” Sen. Ranzenhofer added.

The center would be the latest piece of the “Buffalo Billion,” which is supposed to create jobs in Western New York through facilities like RiverBend. This project still needs to be passed as part of the state budget, which is due by April 1. But Senators Kennedy and Ranzenhofer say it has widespread bipartisan support.

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