Peter Winkelstein, MD, MBA.

Peter Winkelstein, MD, MBA, directs the Institute for Healthcare Informatics — a key part of the Buffalo Institute for Genomics and Data Analytics.

UB Centers to Help Transform Medical Diagnosis, Treatment

Published February 12, 2015

As part of the state-funded $105 million collaboration between the University at Buffalo and the New York Genome Center (NYGC), the year-old Buffalo Institute for Genomics and Data Analytics (BIG) is helping to develop upstate New York as a national center for genomic medicine research.

“Collaboration with other industries is important for BIG to become integrated within the community and further critical, life-saving research.”
Norma J. Nowak, PhD
Executive director, UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences

Created in 2014, BIG aids breakthroughs in personalized medicine by providing high-performance computing, informatics and biomedical expertise through three UB research centers:

UB is Driving Force in Medical Info Analysis

During a Jan. 22 update on BIG’s inaugural year, the founding principals discussed the institute’s blueprint for the future.

BIG is setting the stage for unprecedented new approaches to personalized medicine, diagnostics and technologies, said Thomas Furlani, PhD, BIG’s interim executive director and CCR director, during the event.

“We are grateful for Gov. Cuomo’s commitment to BIG and his recognition of UB as a driving force in life sciences research, supercomputing and medical information analysis,” he emphasized. 

BIG will receive $47.5 million from the state’s Buffalo Billion investment: $32.5 million in capital dollars and $15 million in working capital and operating funds, which UB must match.

Building Collaborative Environment in Buffalo

BIG leaders also provided insight on successful collaborations with industry and shared how businesses can get involved.

“Collaboration with other industries is important for BIG to become integrated within the community and further critical, life-saving research,” said Norma J. Nowak, PhD, executive director of the CBLS and professor of biochemistry

“BIG is one aspect of this collaborative ‘village’ we are building in Buffalo.” 

The partnership is already fostering symbiotic relationships among industry partners, UB faculty, other universities and nonprofit organizations to develop marketable, diagnostic, genomic assays that will guide treatment strategies for conditions including:

  • statin induced myopathy
  • multiple sclerosis
  • autism spectrum disorder

The CBLS — one of the five original statewide centers of excellence — houses BIG, which oversees the engagement of CCR, CBLS, IHI and other key assets with the state genome center.

Important Step for Economic Development

“This initiative is an important step forward for health care research and economic development in our region,” said Peter Winkelstein, MD, MBA, executive director of the IHI and clinical professor of pediatrics.

“It is exciting to see the effect this partnership will have locally and statewide.”

The collaboration is expected to yield nearly 500 jobs within five years.