Capital Region’s Top Research Institutions Host Symposium on Building Collaborations in Research Leading to Medical Advances

April 24, 2013


Biomedical researchers, industry leaders and policymakers joined together Wednesday to discuss ways to build collaborations among Capital Region institutions that will be able to translate basic scientific research into practical, commercial health care applications.

The symposium was sponsored by the NY CAP Research Alliance, created to foster biomedical research in the Capital Region as part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council initiative.  The symposium also included presentations of research funded by the Alliance, which is headed by Albany Medical Center president and CEO James J. Barba, and presidents Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D. of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and Robert Jones, Ph.D. of the University at Albany.

In addition, researchers presented current status of 10 biomedical research projects supported by $745,000 awarded competitively by the Research Alliance last year.  Each project involves collaboration among scientists from at least two of the three institutions to advance biomedical research with potential for commercialization.

Barba said, “Today’s symposium is an important step forward in helping turn the research of extraordinarily talented researchers of our region into projects that will not only improve the delivery of health care, but also help develop and attract new businesses and create jobs within our region.  With the leadership of Governor Cuomo, our three institutions are working together to combine our strengths in ways that will benefit our community for years to come.”

Jackson said, “Strengthened by collaboration and focused on results, the NYCAP Research Alliance is destined to generate vital discoveries and innovations in health care, while fortifying the local economy in the process.  Today’s forum is a reminder of the exceptional health research talent in this region.  By leveraging that talent, the NYCAP alliance will attract new partnerships, new resources, and new business to the area.”

Jones said, “This symposium marks a significant milestone in the progress of the NY CAP Research Alliance in fostering collaborations among Capital Region biomedical researchers and advancing the potential to compete successfully for federal and private funding.”

Keynote speakers included Andrew Ellington, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry at the University of Texas, who has worked on the evolution of molecules and organisms, with recent work on DNA nanotechnology and circuitry, who spoke about synthetic biology; and Donald L. Price, M.D., professor of pathology, neurology and neurosciences and director of the division of neuropathology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, an alumnus of Albany Medical College, who spoke about cognitive impairments and dementia in the elderly. 

The symposium, held on the RPI campus, also hosted panels with research and industry leaders on regenerative medicine, which were led by Jonathan S. Dordick, Ph.D., vice president for research and professor of chemical and biological engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; and on neurosciences, led by James A. Dias, Ph.D., vice president for research and chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences in the School of Public Health at the University at Albany,

Researchers presented updates on their projects for: 

  • Pursuing a new drug for the prevention of neuropathic pain, which brings together the expertise of researchers Philip Albrecht, Ph.D., and Frank Rice, Ph.D., from Albany Medical College, and Sridar Chittur, Ph.D., from UAlbany.
  • Pursuing novel treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease, which brings together the expertise of researchers Peter Tessier, Ph.D., from Rensselaer; Ewan McNay, Ph.D., from UAlbany; and Earl Zimmerman, M.D., from Albany Medical College.
  • Pursuing a fast and effective way to diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease and differentiate it from other forms of dementia, which brings together the expertise of researchers Igor Lednev, Ph.D., from UAlbany, and Earl Zimmerman, M.D., from Albany Medical College.
  • Investigating specialized tissue engineering, which brings together the expertise of researchers Peter Vincent, Ph.D., from Albany Medical College, and Guohao Dai, Ph.D., from Rensselaer.
  • Developing a sensor for the early detection of Alzheimer’s Disease, which brings together the expertise of researchers Paul Agris, Ph.D., Marlene Belfort, Ph.D., and Hua Shi, Ph.D., all from UAlbany; Georges Belfort, Ph.D., from Rensselaer; and Earl Zimmerman, M.D., from Albany Medical College.
  • Developing smart bandages for healing wounds, which brings together the expertise of researchers Shiva Prasad Kotha, Ph.D., from Rensselaer, and Nadine Hempel, Ph.D., from UAlbany.
  • Developing a novel implantable sensor for use in orthopedics and neurosurgery, which brings together the expertise of researchers Eric Ledet, Ph.D., and Kenneth Connor, Ph.D., both from Rensselaer; Richard Uhl, M.D., and Darryl DiRisio, M.D., both from Albany Medical College: and Nathaniel Cady, Ph.D., from UAlbany.
  • Pursuing specialized tissue engineering, which brings together the expertise of researchers Melinda Larsen, Ph.D., from UAlbany; Livingston Van De Water, Ph.D., from Albany Medical College; and David Corr, Ph.D., from Rensselaer.
  • Developing sensors to differentiate forms of prostate cancer, which brings together the expertise of researchers Martin Tenniswood, Ph.D., from UAlbany; Jeffrey Ross, M.D., and Hugh Fisher, M.D., both from Albany Medical College.
  • Developing a method to control colon cancer through use of vitamins, which brings together the expertise of researchers JoEllen Welsh, Ph.D., from UAlbany, and Timothy Sellati, Ph.D., from Albany Medical College.

About NY Cap Research Alliance:  The NY Cap Research Alliance was established in 2012 by Albany Medical Center, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University at Albany with a $950,000 grant as part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Regional Council initiative. Created to foster biomedical research among the Capital Region’s leading academic research institutions, the Alliance is a first-round Capital Region Economic Development Council (CREDC) priority project. It is designed to  spur economic growth, formalize existing collaboration and foster additional cooperation among numerous biomedical research entities located in New York’s Capital Region to attract notable biomedical research talent to the region; leverage research-related  investments and increase the amount of supported biomedical research underway in the region; identify opportunities for development of products as a result of research, and secure seed funding for their commercialization; encourage development of businesses producing biomedical interventions and devices and bring new opportunity to the region and create new jobs in a sector that can be expected to continue to grow. 

About Albany Medical Center: Albany Medical Center, northeastern New York’s only academic health sciences center, is one of the largest private employers in the Capital Region. It incorporates the 651-bed Albany Medical Center Hospital, which offers the widest range of medical and surgical services in the region, and the Albany Medical College, which trains the next generation of doctors, scientists and other healthcare professionals, and also includes a biomedical research enterprise and the region’s largest physicians practice with nearly 400 doctors. Albany Medical Center works with dozens of community partners to improve the region’s health and quality of life. For more information: or

About Rensselaer: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, founded in 1824, is the nation’s oldest technological research university. The university offers bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in engineering, the sciences, information technology, architecture, management, and the humanities and social sciences. Institute programs serve undergraduates, graduate students, and working professionals around the world. Rensselaer faculty are known for pre-eminence in research conducted in a wide range of fields, with particular emphasis in biotechnology, nanotechnology, information technology, and the media arts and technology. The Institute is well known for its success in the transfer of technology from the laboratory to the marketplace so that new discoveries and inventions benefit human life, protect the environment, and strengthen economic development.

About the University at Albany-SUNY:  The University at Albany is an internationally recognized public research institution with more than 17,300 students at the graduate and undergraduate levels. The University boasts 58 undergraduate majors and 128 graduate degree programs many of which are ranked among the top fifty in the nation.  The varied perspectives and life experiences of a student body and faculty that represent more than 100 nations provide a diversity that enriches learning. UAlbany’s research mission is to create and apply new knowledge to address the critical issues of the 21st century. For more information about this globally ranked University, visit


Albany Medical Center: Sue Ford, 518-262-3421,

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: Mark Marchand, 518-276-6098,

University at Albany: Catherine Herman, 518-956-8151,

Press Contact Mark Marchand
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