In addition to the 122 deaths [as of Nov. 13], hundreds of thousands of power outages, and billions of dollars in property damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, the superstorm washed away thousands of mice. Just how many has yet to be confirmed, though news reports immediately after the disaster placed the number at more than 10,000—including 5,000 alone from the lab of Gordon Fishell, Ph.D., associate director of New York University’s Neuroscience Institute.
Dr. Fishell, who at deadline had not answered two email messages from GEN seeking additional information, was among researchers based at NYU’s Smilow Research Center, into which water from Sandy surged the night of the storm. For him and other Smilow researchers, help to store supplies, continue with experiments, or (worse comes to worst) start all over again came from across the U.S. including a fledgling research consortium also based in Manhattan.
“NYU and their researchers suffered a serious setback during the storm, which we’re very concerned about,” Nancy J. Kelley, J.D., founding executive director of the New York Genome Center (NYGC), told GEN. NYGC is a consortium of academic medical centers whose members include NYU and its School of Medicine. Most, but not all NYGC members are in New York City.
“We have stepped in to help them complete the sequencing runs that were being done when the machines went down during the storm, to help them with capacity that they don’t have right now, and to do the interpretation of their data,” Kelley said.
NYGC was founded in August 2010, and went public a year ago [GEN, Dec. 9, 2011] In establishing the operation, Kelley said, the genome center management “spent a lot of time thinking about what could go wrong, and how we protected against those risks.”