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[September 27, 2013]

Governor Andrew Cuomo Announces Nearly $700K Research Collaboration Fund Awards to 10 SUNY Campuses:
SUNY Downstate among Those Receiving Awards 

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced that seven research projects involving 10 SUNY campuses will each receive up to $100,000 from the SUNY Research Collaboration Fund, which supports research collaborations among campuses as part of the SUNY system’s strategic plan, The Power of SUNY. Among the funded initiatives are projects that seek to improve cancer detection and treatment, further medical imaging and diagnostics, and analyze the effects of climate change.

SUNY Downstate Medical Center is one of the seven campuses receiving an award, for a joint project with SUNY’s University at Buffalo designed to improve the ability to increase prognostic accuracy for recurring prostate cancer.

Brian K. McNeil, MD, assistant professor of urology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, and Yijun Sun, PhD, assistant professor in bioinformatics at the University at Buffalo, will examine the use of advanced computational algorithms in constructing reliable prediction models. 

After surgical treatment, prostate cancer recurs in an estimated 15 to 30 percent of patients. The Downstate/Buffalo team note that many existing prognostic models used to predict whether there is a high chance of prostate cancer recurring after treatment were derived using a limited number of samples with known metastatic status. For a disease as complex as cancer that may consist of multiple sub-phenotypes, thousands of training samples are potentially needed in order to construct a reliable prediction model. Therefore, the project will look at a large number of tumor tissues that have been archived. The team will introduce an innovative data analysis strategy to assess these tissues and perform a large-scale computational study – the first large-scale study of its kind.

Dr. McNeil and Dr. Sun believe that if they can confirm in this pilot study that tissue specimens without clinical follow-up information do indeed contain valuable information, this work could lead to a paradigm shift in the derivation and validation of gene signatures for accurate prostate cancer prognosis, and pave the way for future multi-institutional cohort studies. The result could be more effective prognosis and treatment of prostate cancer cases that are likely to recur.

The purpose of the SUNY Research Collaboration Fund is to support collaboration among researchers and students across SUNY’s campuses in order to enhance the collective impact of their work and ability to advance science, innovation, and economic prosperity in New York State.

“Not only does the SUNY system provide quality, affordable higher education opportunities to New Yorkers – but it is also an engine of research and development to increase innovation and grow our economy in New York State,” Governor Cuomo said. “The projects receiving awards today showcase a wide range of areas being explored in campuses across the SUNY system, and they all have potential to leave a positive and lasting impact on our health, environment and society. I applaud these award recipients and look forward to seeing their projects progress.”
“The scope of SUNY’s scientific research is reflected in these awards and we will continue to incentivize cross-campus collaboration to promote the strength of working together as a system,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “Congratulations to the campuses, faculty, and students involved in these exciting projects.”
“The scope, scale, and diversity of SUNY’s research portfolio are on full display with the announcement of these awards,” said Dr. Tim Killeen, president of the RF and SUNY’s vice chancellor for research. “Collaborative research invites industry interest and entrepreneurial opportunity that lead to innovation, new business, jobs, and public benefit. We congratulate each of the fund recipients for their visionary work.” 

This second annual round of Research Collaboration Fund awards attracted 77 proposals. Funded projects were selected through a rigorous peer-review process. Factors considered in the evaluation included: originality and significance of the research; student involvement; industry and other outreach efforts; and the ability to attract future federal, state, philanthropic, or private funding.

For information about awards to the other SUNY campuses, please go to: .

SUNY Downstate Medical Center, founded in 1860, was the first medical school in the United States to bring teaching out of the lecture hall and to the patient’s bedside. A center of innovation and excellence in research and clinical service delivery, SUNY Downstate Medical Center comprises a College of Medicine, Colleges of Nursing and Health Related Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, University Hospital of Brooklyn, and an Advanced Biotechnology Park and Biotechnology Incubator.

SUNY Downstate ranks ninth nationally in the number of alumni who are on the faculty of American medical schools.  More physicians practicing in New York City have graduated from SUNY Downstate than from any other medical school.