$1 Million Grant for U of Buffalo Pharm School

The School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (SOPPS) at the University of Buffalo has received a $1 million grant from Novartis, along with its generics division Sandoz, for research and fellowships. SOPPS will use the grant to expand its laboratory for protein therapeutics and to support the work of postdoctoral scholars and graduate students on site. The grant also enables the school to provide seed money for several UB faculty research projects in the field.Dean Wayne K. Anderson noted that the Novartis grant opens the door for UB to begin building on its plan to become the first university worldwide with an interdisciplinary program that applies pharmaceutical sciences"”particularly in the areas of pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics (PK/PD)"”to the development of protein drugs.   Much of the research will take place in the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences which is providing some space and equipment. In addition, professionals from Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute and Roswell Park Cancer Institute will be invited to collaborate.  For those of you unfamiliar with Buffalo/Niagara, the facilities and medical research going on there is extensive and pretty amazing. I had the opportunity to explore these facilities back in March. Here is a brief primer.  The Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute was founded in 1956 as the Medical Foundation of Buffalo. Originally funded by Helen Woodward Rivas, the Institute has a focus on the science of crystallography. Crystallography uses diffraction to discover information about molecular structure. It provides 3-D shapes of the substances involved in disease processes. One of the researchers that calls the Institute his home is Dr. Herbert A. Hauptman. In 1985, Hauptman became the first non-chemist to receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Sharing his honor with Dr. Jerome Karle, the prize was awarded for outstanding achievement in the development of new mathematical methods for analyzing crystallographic diffraction data. In the past five years the institute has researched the SARS virus to help develop a passive-vaccine; provided insight into how non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs affect the process; studied the function of certain enzymes that synthesize antibiotics; and developed a high throughput robotic screening facility for experiments to be rapidly set up, screened and photographed (in less than 10 minutes, 1536 crystallization experiments can be run - compared to the months it previously took).  The Roswell Park Cancer Institute is a full service campus with research, clinical trials, prevention awareness, as well as education. They can make the drugs in their labs, evaluate them in terms of toxicology and pharmacokinetics and then take them all the way through to phase I and II clinical trials. While I was there, I got to talk with Drs. Barbara Foster and Marwan Fakih who are doing research on Vitamin D therapy. The vitamin is being tested for its use in prostate cancer.  Companies are also starting to locate in or near the Medical Campus. In July, Genome project researcher Norma Nowak founded Empire Genomics from studies done at Roswell Park Cancer Institute and located it right on the Campus. President Anthony Johnson explained to me how they are planning to market genetic tests for illnesses. By examining your genetic code, doctors can detect problems early and avoid costly treatment later. This is truly personalized medicine. Your genetic code can help determine the treatments.  Empire Genomics is only one of several high-profile biotech start-ups calling Buffalo's medical corridor home this year. At the forefront of helping locate these companies in the area is Buffalo Niagara Enterprise. Led by President & CEO Tom Kucharski and  Business Development Manager Dave Tyler, BNE provides market data and other information services relevant to business location decisions; professional consultation on business locations; regional collaboration; and marketing & public relations. They are truly ambassadors of the area. BS