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'World class' disease research facility touted

'World class' disease research facility touted

Albany Medical Center is turning to academia for help in its fight against cancer and Alzheimer’s di

Albany Medical Center is turning to academia for help in its fight against cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, and a new biomedical research facility at the University at Albany’s East Campus will serve as the staging ground for that collaboration.

Officials from Albany Med and UAlbany on Monday announced a partnership that will combine their research and educational operations in a physical location for the first time in the history of the 169-year-old hospital and 164-year-old school.

Combined, Albany Med and UAlbany expect to garner more National Institute of Health grants for research. Albany Med also plans to broaden its medical doctorate offerings by pairing them with professional doctorate, master’s and bachelor’s degree programs.

“Today marks the beginning of the collaboration,” Albany Medical Center President and Chief Executive Officer James Barba said at a Monday news conference at the Gen*NY*sis Center for Excellence in Cancer Genomics. The 113,000-square-foot Gen*NY*sis, which opened in 2005, is the newest facility at the East Campus, in East Greenbush.

The two institutions on Friday entered a memorandum of understanding, which says the institutions will work together to create the 110,000-square-foot Institute for Biomedical Education and Research at UAlbany’s East Campus.

“This is going to be world-class in every way,” Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno said at Monday’s news conference.

Bruno, R-Brunswick, called the biomedical institute “a done deal,” with $42 million in capital funding already set aside in the state’s current fiscal year budget.

Barba could neither specify how many jobs the new facility will support nor when it will open.

The biomedical institute comes on top of the $360 million, six-story expansion project the medical center announced in February for its main facility in Albany.

Construction is expected to start in November on the six-story building, which will increase the hospital’s bed capacity by 116 beds. Bruno also secured $25 million for a 60-bed neonatal intensive care unit that is part of the expansion project.

Barba said the biomedical institute is an economic driver and likened it to the Georgia Research Alliance, a partnership between research universities, businesses and state government that has helped attract 90 start-up companies and create 40,000 technology-sector jobs since its founding in 1990.

The biomedical institute will continue the East Campus’ 12-year-old transformation from a pharmaceutical research complex abandoned by the Sterling Winthrop Co.

The campus now also houses 25 public and private entities, including the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany Molecular Research and Taconic Farms. Over 1,000 researchers work on the 90-acre campus with 11 buildings, which include 537,000 square feet of new and remodeled space.

Between March 2007 and March 2008, Albany Med had $14 million in active research grants, most of which came from NIH. The medical center already runs research projects in collaboration with the nonprofit Ordway Research Institute in Albany, the state’s Wadsworth Center in Albany, General Electric Co.’s Global Research Center in Niskayuna and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy.

Albany Med is one of the nation’s oldest private medical schools and one of New York’s largest teaching hospitals.

It also has educational partnerships with RPI, Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, Albany Law School, Albany College of Pharmacy, Siena College in Loudonville and Union College in Schenectady.

At the proposed East Campus facility, Albany Med and UAlbany will focus research efforts on cancer, cardiology and neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s Disease.

“If there’s a nut I’d like to crack, it’s the Alzheimer’s nut,” Barba said.

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