New Partnerships and Inititives

Several initiatives under way improve our capacity for discovery and our ability to compete for funds to make those discoveries possible.

  • URMC was chosen as the home of a federally funded center to study the germs that cause lung disease. The Respiratory Pathogens Research Center, a mix of clinicians and researchers, will target the bugs that cause conditions like the flu, respiratory syncytial virus, and SARS. While first-year funding from NIH amounts to nearly $5 million, the seven-year contract could amount to $35 million to $50 million in research funding – the largest NIH contract awarded in our history.
  • computers

    A cluster of IBM Blue Gene supercomputers

    Key to the center’s creation is the new Health Sciences Center for Computational Innovation (HSCCI), an emerging partnership between the University and IBM. The centerpiece of the proposed $100 million arrangement will be an array of IBM Blue Gene/Q supercomputers with the capacity to analyze huge amounts of information quickly – a crucial ability at a time when biomedical researchers create extraordinary amounts of data. Late last year, New York State awarded the University $5 million for the initiative, which will create one of the most powerful computer systems in the world dedicated to health research. The center taps our other significant resources in the realm of respiratory disease, including the New York Influenza Center of Excellence, the Vaccine Research Unit, and the Center for Biodefense Immune Modeling.
  • Leaders of our Wilmot Cancer Center are working closely with Roswell Park Cancer Institute to establish a consortium that aims to be a national leader in cancer research and treatment. Scientists from the two institutions are identifying opportunities for collaboration and fundraising as a first step toward supporting those ventures. Eight $100,000 grants have been provided to research teams that include investigators from each institution engaged in studies on a range of topics, including cancers that affect the lungs, pancreas, prostate, brain, blood, esophagus, and lymph system. Working together in the laboratory is a key step toward what is expected to be an exciting and productive partnership that benefits our entire region.
  • Researchers in chronic pain, led by Robert H. Dworkin, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Anesthesiology, are teaming with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to find ways to more effectively evaluate new, safe, and effective treatments for the more than 76 million Americans with acute and chronic pain. The initiative, known as ACTTION (Analgesic Clinical Trial Translations, Innovations, Opportunities, and Networks), involves the collaboration of public and private organizations, including professional societies, patient advocacy groups, industry, and government and is aimed at relieving the physical and financial burdens associated with chronic pain.
  • MRSA

    Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)

  • The School of Medicine and Dentistry has partnered with the Temple University School of Pharmacy to help translate novel medical research into new drugs to treat disease. Accelerating the pace of drug development is a priority at NIH, as Dean Mark Taubman, M.D., learned from NIH Director Francis Collins at a gathering of medical school deans in November. The partnership with Temple reflects a growing trend in medical research, with academic institutions becoming more directly involved in the drug discovery process, a role that has historically been filled by industry. For our School, this means playing a more active role in identifying and guiding new compounds from the earliest stages of research along the path to becoming new drugs. Approximately 30 URMC research projects have already been identified as potential candidates for this collaboration. Some of the most exciting accomplishments in this area in 2011 included a promising new way to stop Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA, initial steps toward developing a vaccine to prevent MRSA infections following surgery, and laboratory work indicating that a compound derived from wild mushrooms shows potential for keeping HIV at bay.