The Center brings together scientists from around the city to translate promising research into medical innovations to treat, prevent and manage disease
Gene sequencing is going big time in the Big Apple. Last month the New York Genome Center (NYGC) moved into a state-of-the-art, 170,000-square-foot genome sequencing and biometrics research building. New York City is putting down its marker to claim a leading role in advancing genetic knowledge.
What makes this development notable for the clinical laboratory industry and the anatomic pathology profession is the fact that cities across the nation are investing substantial amounts of capital to create their own genetic and biotech research and development hubs. Their common objective is to bring together all the expertise, financial support, and business acumen needed to create a job-creating critical mass in the fields of biotech and genetic medicine.
New Facility Is a Big Boost to Genetic Research
The new facility in New York City is a major step up for the New York Genome Center (NYGC), which had been operating out of a 3,000-square-foot rented space at Rockefeller University. This non-profit organization is dedicated to translating promising research and genomic knowledge into innovative medical applications for treating, preventing or managing serious disease.
At the Center’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, noted the city’s deep pool of academic and institutional scientific talent. As well, about $1.4 billion in research funding annually flows to New York from the National Institutes of Health.
Federal research dollars—along with the city’s venture capital culture—has helped to make New York a “hotbed of bringing new products and procedures from the laboratory to the market,” observed Bloomberg, who was quoted in a report published by genomeweb.com.
Center Will Organize the ‘Geyser of Information’ Produced by Sequencing
The Center will focus on bioinformatics because genome sequencing projects are churning out a “geyser of information, so much so that biology and medical research is in peril of “drowning in data,” explained NYGC President and Scientific Director Robert Darnell M.D., Ph.D.
Darnell specifically called attention to the fact that the genome center generates more than a trillion base pairs of information daily. He said that members of the consortium will work together to find a solution to this information crisis. In finding answers, Darnell said, “We are going to integrate our in-house genomics scientists here, and our informaticists with those from around the city.”
The Center is Lynchpin of New York’s Genomics Community
Backed by $140 million in public and private funding, the Center will serve as the epicenter of New York’s life sciences community. It facilitates sharing of information by leading scientific minds in medical and biomedical research. Participants include academic research facilities, biotech and pharmaceutical companies, information technology specialists, and other scientists, noted the Xeconomy report.
This unique consortium aims to identify promising approaches to research and clinical care, accelerate the development of new diagnostics and treatments, and provide an engine for life science commercialization, according to the NYGC Website. It includes:
- Albert Einstein College of Medicine,
- Old Spring Harbor Laboratory;
- Columbia University,
- Cornell University
- Weill Cornell Medical College,
- The Jackson Laboratory,
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center,
- Mount Sinai School of Medicine,
- NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital,
- New York University,
- North Shore LIJ Health System,
- The Rockefeller University,
- Stony Brook University,
- Illumina (NASDAQ:ILMN),
- Life Technologies,
- Sabey Corp., and
The New York Genome Center includes one full floor specifically for bioinformatics, which has 30,000 square feet of space. It also has a gene sequencing facility and multiple laboratories with movable benches that could be converted or expanded for informatics space. One floor is dedicated to administrative offices, according to the genomeweb.com report. Other floors provide space for a clinical laboratory, an auditorium, conference rooms, employee training, freezer rooms, data storage and a technology test center.
NYGC Deputy Scientific Director for Informatics Toby Bloom, noted that the Center has applied to the State of New York for its CLIA certification. It also has ongoing research programs involving whole-genome sequencing, RNA sequencing and epigenetics.
Genetic Research That Can Benefit Clinical and Pathology Lab Testing
Organizers behind the New York Genome Center hope it will prove to be a catalyst for research that eventually benefits patients and clinicians in New York City and elsewhere. Given the concentration of academic sub-specialist pathologists in New York City and the surrounding communities, it can be expected that a number of research breakthroughs that have application in clinical laboratory testing and anatomic pathology will be forthcoming.