Initial two-year phase will collect and analyze blood from 1,000 western NY residents.

The Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) received a $5.1 million award for the RPCI Genome Project as part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council initiative. RPCI will lead the project, which will compile and analyze the detailed genetic data of Western New York citizens.

The money covers the two-year pilot phase of the project. During this stage, 1,000 area residents will be asked to donate a blood sample and provide detailed medical information. The data will be collected in a fully protected way to ensure participant privacy, notes RPCI. The Genome Project will examine genetic factors that play a role in cancer as well as common diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension.

RPCI president and CEO Donald L. Trump, M.D., and deputy director Candace Johnson, Ph.D., will lead the RPCI Genome Project as co-principal investigators. Partners include the University at Buffalo, Kaleida Health, the Catholic Health System, and Erie County Medical Center as well as the three major health insurers in WNY (HealthNow/BlueCross BlueShield, Independent Health, and Univera Healthcare), The P2 Collaborative, and HEALTHeLINK.

The Roswell Park Cancer Institute Genome Project was championed by WNY Regional Economic Development Council (WNYREDC) co-chairs Satish K. Tripathi, University at Buffalo president, and Howard A. Zemsky, managing partner of Larkin Development Group, along with Andrew Rudnick, president of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership and Health & Life Sciences co-chair for the WNYREDC.

Governor Cuomo created 10 Regional Economic Development Councils to develop a plan to increase investment and grow jobs. On December 8, Long Island, Western New York, the North Country, and Central New York were reported as some of the top winners in the first competition for $785.5 million of state grants.

The state is giving Central New York $103.7 million, followed by $103.2 million to the North Country region including the Adirondacks, $101.6 million to Long Island, and $100.3 million to Western New York. The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, which includes the RPCI Genome Project, was among the big winners, according to Buffalo Rising.

Besides RPCI, Hauptman-Woodward Crystallization Laboratory received $500,000 to expand its crystallization laboratory biotech services. Additionally $4 million went to development of the Jacobs Institute’s Center for Innovation in Medicine, a medical device prototyping facility.

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