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Provided by the New York Institute of Technology
By: Opinion, Diane Fabel February 10, 2022
Breakthroughs made by academic and industry scientists over the last 20 years have advanced the field of biomedicine exponentially. Immunotherapies, regenerative medicine, and pre-symptomatic diagnostics are now realities.
Long Island is facing a moment of enormous potential to advance biomedical discoveries that will improve human health and drive economic growth. Enabled by a concentration of world-class research institutions, and an emerging bioscience industry cluster, the region is at a tipping point.
But success is not guaranteed. Without regional infrastructure to anchor biomedical discoveries and companies locally, their potential to impact our economy will be lost to more established biotech regions like Boston and San Francisco. A concerted effort to take our area’s capacity to the next level will be key to Long Island’s future.
One path is through continued and expanded investment.
For years, New York has been building its innovation infrastructure through the NYSTAR network — 70-plus funded centers that help innovators develop technology and build successful companies in several industries, including biotechnology.
The Center for Biotechnology at Stony Brook University has been part of this NYSTAR-backed network since 1983. The foundation set by NYSTAR has enabled our center to generate more than $1.2 billion in economic impact and create 1,125 jobs over the last 15 years. It has also helped us to secure federal funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) that positions the region for additional investment.
We can draw a direct line from NYSTAR’s support of our center to the development of numerous local companies, which in turn are commercializing new biomedical technologies.
One such company is Codagenix. Challenging conventional approaches to vaccine development, Codagenix has developed technology to re-code the genes of viruses through synthetic biology and pioneered a novel platform for vaccines and cancer-cell-destroying virotherapeutics.
Codagenix recently announced encouraging results from Phase 1 of its COVID-19 intranasal vaccine trial. This vaccine, which can be transported and stored using basic refrigeration, could help expand vaccination efforts in areas around the world.
The second path is through region-wide collaboration, focusing on capturing the economic benefit of biomedical discoveries made on Long Island.
This is not a new concept. Accelerate Long Island brought together the region’s academic institutions and established a seed fund that has invested in numerous startups. Yet there remains significant potential to increase technology development and company formation.
The Long Island Biosciences Hub, a collaboration between the Center for Biotechnology, Stony Brook University, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory and the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, is working to further these objectives.
The Hub — supported by the NIH, Research Foundation for SUNY, NYSTAR, and regional research partners — has a simple, yet powerful mission: to accelerate scientific discoveries into commercial products that improve human health.
We have demonstrated on a pilot scale that working collaboratively across the region can have significant impact on technology development and company formation. The NIH investment of $3 million in the Hub has leveraged $64.5 million in additional funding over five years, and generated 11 new companies that have secured $25 million for development.
Both New York State and the federal government have invested in Long Island’s biotech sector. It’s now time to scale and formalize the strategy to build a world-class industry cluster.
After all, it’s up to us to make sure Long Island — and Long Islanders — benefit from our breakthroughs economically, as we contribute to the health and wellbeing of communities worldwide.
Diane Fabel is director of operations at the Center for Biotechnology at Stony Brook.
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