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Trudeau, SUNY plan biotech research program

December 15, 2011
By CHRIS KNIGHT - Senior Staff Writer ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

SARANAC LAKE - Trudeau Institute was one of the big winners in last week's announcement that the North Country has been awarded $103.2 million in state economic development funds.

The nonprofit biotech research center will receive $1.2 million to modernize its laboratory facilities and recruit additional scientists and research teams.

But that wasn't all.

Tucked into the $62 million award for 88 projects in the Capital Region was a $1 million allocation to the state University at Albany for a biotechnology corridor initiative that includes Trudeau.

A press release on the university's website says the biotech corridor initiative is designed to make the school a focal point in biotechnology research and development in the greater Capital Region. The funds will be used for the creation of a biotech research and training facility.

"The initiative will also foster a growing biotechnology presence in Saranac Lake, base of the Trudeau Institute, as well as complement the biomedical research strengths of the research institutions and biotechnology companies across the region," the release states. "The funding will provide resources to the East Campus to upgrade equipment and improve labs and research facilities, grow the presence of biotech companies co-located on the East Campus, and collaborate with the Trudeau Institute to foster the development of a biotech corridor."

The specifics of how the university and Trudeau plan to work together on this project are still unclear. Trudeau officials provided only a brief statement when the Enterprise asked about this initiative and the $1.2 million awarded directly to the Institute through the North Country's regional plan.

"The Trudeau Institute is excited by the announcement, and is looking forward to working out specifics with the state," the statement reads. "Until that time, we regret that we can't provide any further information."

The biotech corridor initiative isn't the only project Trudeau and SUNY Albany officials are working on. The university is planning a $150 million Biomedical Information Innovation Research Plaza on its uptown campus and lists the Institute as one of its partners in that project.

"The Trudeau Institute ... is currently exploring expanding its operations at the University of Albany in the near term," university officials wrote in a strategic plan presented to the SUNY Board of Trustees this summer. "This partnership aims to promote interdisciplinary opportunities for research, discovery and learning and, at the same time, strengthen competitiveness for research and development funding, job creation and capital investment both in Saranac Lake ... and at UAlbany and in the Capital Region."

The Institute's partnership with SUNY Albany isn't necessarily a surprise. Trudeau officials said earlier this year that they were looking to work with the university on a biotech initiative.

"I think that to integrate somehow Trudeau into what SUNY does and become involved at some level with its teaching mission would be tremendous," then-Institute director David Woodland told the Enterprise in July. "We certainly are looking for ways to partner with organizations like SUNY, and I'm speaking here specifically of SUNY Albany, in the future."

The partnership with SUNY Albany also comes in the wake of a decision earlier this year, by the Institute's board, to stay in Saranac Lake. As part of an ongoing strategic planning initiative, Trudeau officials had considered relocating the Institute closer to a clinical research hospital or university campus.

The state funding for recruitment of new scientists at Trudeau comes at a key time for the Institute, which recently lost several of its top researchers, including Woodland, and was forced to lay off nearly a dozen scientific and support staff earlier this year due to a 25 percent drop in research revenue. The bulk of the research performed at Trudeau is funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health.



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