NYS to invest in UB genome medicine research

BUFFALO – Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan to invest $105 million into a genomic medicine facility in Western New York will "dramatically improve" an exploding and potentially life-saving area of research, University at Buffalo researchers said Wednesday.

In his State of the State Address, Cuomo unveiled the investment as a part of the Buffalo Billion. It will create a partnership between UB, the Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the New York Genome Center, a Manhattan-based research operation.

"We want to take the next step and locate the genomic medicine center in Western New York," Cuomo said. "Genomic medicine is the next frontier in modern medicine."

Genomic medicine, which has only emerged within the past decade, studies the differences in humans' genetic makeup in order to determine how to prevent disease and properly treat patients. This idea of "personalized medicine," which would tailor patient treatment based on their genetic makeup, could revolutionize medical care and significantly impact knowledge about diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer's or Parkinson's.

Thomas Furlani, the director of UB's Center for Computational Research, said the money will help upgrade existing facilities to increase the computing and storing capacity of data. Currently, Furlani said the UB facility crunches two to three terabytes of data per day – and one terabyte is roughly the equivalent of the information contained in 100,000 phone books. Furlani said it used to take 10 years to map a human genome. Now, it takes one day.

But researchers want to get even faster.

"Patients can't wait that long," Furlani said. "We're going to be able to get answers to our scientific questions much quicker."

According to a media release from the New York Genome Center, the investment will create 500 jobs in Manhattan, and NYGC said the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus "plans similar employee growth in the short term and more over time."

"It's another investment from the Buffalo Billion, and it's another win for our community with great-paying jobs," Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said. "It will continue the growth we've been seeing for some time now."


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