Wilmot Lab Receives NY State Funds for Research Upgrades

Dec. 18, 2023

Wilmot Cancer Institute will receive $339,850 from Empire State Development (ESD) to help with renovations and new technology for their Biobank Shared Resource. The grant was awarded through the state’s Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council (FLREDC) Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) process.

The upgrades to the Biobank laboratory, which is heavily used by Wilmot cancer researchers, are needed to meet National Cancer Institute (NCI) goals and requirements. Wilmot is applying to the NCI for a special research grant that, if awarded, would designate Wilmot as a top cancer center in the U.S. NCI designation is a strategic priority for Wilmot and the University of Rochester. A key part of the NCI grant focuses on structure, core facilities, and shared resources for scientists, including tissue banks, genomics centers, biostatistics services, and imaging technology.

Wilmot and the UR are investing $1.7 million to upgrade the Biobank lab. The state funds will go towards updating essential equipment known as advanced high-throughput single-cell technology, for processing biospecimens. Wilmot estimates that eight new jobs will be created as a result of the state’s investment.

Wilmot scientists use the Biobank to conduct studies aimed at developing new cancer treatments and improving the lives of patients and survivors. The Biobank actively supports researchers by offering a comprehensive catalogue of tissue and genetic material obtained with consent from cancer patients, and consultation services to scientists.

As upstate New York’s largest cancer center, Wilmot is continuously improving its research function as well as clinical care. It serves patients from a Rochester region that encompasses 27 counties and more than 3 million residents. Cancer incidence here is extremely high: if the 27 counties were its own state, it would be equivalent to the size of Vermont, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire combined — and would have the second highest cancer incidence in the U.S. behind Kentucky, Wilmot data show.

John Ashton, PhD, MBA
John Ashton, PhD, MBA

“Thank you Empire State Development and Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council for awarding the UR Wilmot Cancer Center much-needed funds in support of their planned expansion and lab upgrades,” said NY State Assemblymember Harry Bronson, Chair of the Committee on Economic Development, Job Creation, Commerce and Industry. “As the largest oncology service center in New York outside of New York City, the exceptional treatment the UR Wilmot Cancer Center provides to patients throughout our region has proven invaluable. In addition to delivering lifesaving, pioneering services, the lab upgrades will enable UR to increase their workforce to add eight additional full-time jobs. This investment will also assist them in securing a designation by the National Cancer Institute.”

“Wilmot Cancer Center is an international leader in cancer control and supportive care research, and I’m proud to have helped advocate for significant investment from New York State,” said NY State Senator Samra Brouk. “This funding will not only make Wilmot more competitive in its application to receive nationwide designation as a top cancer center, but will also help reduce the burden of cancer in our region—where rates of incidence and mortality are far higher than in other parts of the nation. I look forward to continued collaboration with my colleagues in the legislature and URMC to make Rochester and the surrounding area a healthier place to call home.”

John Ashton, PhD, MBA, is director of Wilmot Shared Resources, and Brad Mills, PhD, leads the Biobank.