The establishment of a Center for Protein Dynamics at Binghamton University is a top priority for the state in 2003, according to the Research Foundation of the State University of New York.
The Research Foundation’s support for the proposed center is detailed in the corporation’s March 2002 Board Report. According to that report, the Research Foundation is backing an initiative calling for a Center of Excellence based on a protein dynamics research at Binghamton as one of five focus areas in its 2003 federal appropriations process.
A private, nonprofit educational corporation, The SUNY Research Foundation administers externally funded grants and contracts for the State University of New York. Established in 1951, the Research Foundation facilitates research, education, and public service at Binghamton and 29 other state-operated SUNY locations.
Using technology to help identify and respond to life threatening disease processes is a major goal for Binghamton researchers whose work is supported by the University’s emerging Center for Protein Dynamics. Using biological principles and the latest in computer and laser technology, BU researchers are tracking the protein fingerprint of cellular activity to obtain a first-hand look at disease processes.
Based in proteomics -the study of all proteins produced by an organism and of the operational networks they form with one another- Binghamton research promises to help scientists extract from a single drop of blood, saliva, or urine a detailed portrait of the state of health or disease in an individual’s body. Eventually the field is expected to provide scientists with the information they need to create pharmaceutical keys that can be used to selectively turn protein activity on or off to improve patient health.
BU research initiatives, which have attracted more than 170 industrial partners, and about 60 institutional collaborators, are already leading to significant advances in disease and transplant diagnostics, early interventions in such diseases processes as diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s, and more appropriate treatment protocols for many diseases including cystic fybrosis.
The Research Foundation’s decision to back the establishment at Binghamton University of a Center for Excellence based on protein dynamics adds to a growing body of support from federal and state legislators in recent weeks.
Since January, U.S. Senators Charles Schumer, D-New York, and Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-New York, Congressman Maurice Hinchey, D-26th District, and state Senator Thomas Libous have each made special trips to the 828-acre BU campus to talk about BU research, particularly in the fields of medical diagnostics through protein dynamics, and advanced sensor design and threat detection.
“I’m prepared to help you in any way I can,” Schumer said during his January visit. “This is the future. I’m so glad Binghamton is pursing these initiatives.”
During her campus visit in mid-March, Clinton likewise noted feeling more confident about the future as a result of a briefing she received on BU research.
“What’s exciting about this state is that embedded within its borders is the future,” Clinton said. “Not only for people who live here but, I believe, the future we’re going to make for all of us. As I was listening to the president and others describe to me the research that is done here, I could see that future.”
Hinchey, who sits on the Appropriations Committee, heard presentations during his campus visit in late February on several research initiatives that are at key stages in their move from the laboratory into production. He learned, for instance, about advanced sensor design and threat detection work being done by Ronald Miles, professor of mechanical engineering, and Omowunmi Sadik, assistant professor of chemistry. Miles is working on auditory sensors that have both commercial and military applications. Sadik is working with a variety of scent-detection applications that can be applied in a variety of environmental and security issues.
Like protein dynamics, the design and application of sensors and sensory and threat detection devices is a developed, strategic research thrust at Binghamton University. With support from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Science Foundation (NSF), DARPA, and the Office of Naval Research (ONR), an interdisciplinary group of researchers in chemistry, biology, and engineering are developing a broad array of sensors and sensory materials for biological and chemical analyses and threat detection, as well as advanced motion and sound detection capabilities.
“The potential for creating new systems for developing solutions to problems that are now unsolvable are enormous,” said Hinchey, who sits on the federal Appropriations Committee. “The significance of this research is why I’m interested in working with the University on developing funding that will allow this research to continue and to grow.”
Support for Binghamton University biotechnologies research is also strong at the state level where Binghamton Senator Thomas Libous has pushed for inclusion of the University in the Senate’s $530 million Gen*NY*sis plan.
Under that plan, Binghamton University would receive $16 million for its Advanced Biotechnologies Center, a move that Libous said would have huge potential in terms of job creation and economic stimulus.
“We believe this (biotechnology) is the next wave of economic development,” Libous said.