Space Growing Scarce at a Medical Campus Seeking its Niche – Buffalo News Story

Fast-growing center seeks its place in the crowded biomedical sector

(Photos from The Buffalo News)

Published: 06/8/2013, 7:15 PM

As the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus works to overcome the region’s reputation as a high-tax, Rust Belt destination, it is already attracting enough tenants to be outgrowing its footprint, with two million square feet of space already added and another two million square feet planned by 2016. From left, electric cars charge in the parking lot across from the Innovation Center. Michelle Roti, a research technician, adds antibiotics to a growth media for cells at Tartis/Aging. Tivona Renoni, from GO Bike Buffalo, left, and Henry Raess work in the Innovation Center. Matthew Masin/Buffalo News

By Stephen T. Watson | News Staff Reporter | @buffaloscribe

The Texas Medical Center in Houston is the largest medical campus in the world, with 106,000 employees working in 290 buildings spread over an area 50 percent larger than Darien Lake theme park.

The powerhouse University of Pittsburgh pulled in $127 million in National Institutes of Health research grants this year, eight times the University at Buffalo’s total.

And the Miami Health District generates a $3 billion annual economic impact for Miami-Dade County in South Florida.

Skeptics wonder how the younger, and far smaller, Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus can carve out a similar niche in the nation’s crowded and highly competitive biomedical sector, while overcoming the region’s high-tax, Rust Belt reputation in order to recruit scientists, doctors and entrepreneurs.

But experts contend Buffalo is not too puny or too far behind the other centers, and the Buffalo Niagara campus will succeed if it leverages its advantages of strong community support, collaborative decision-making and proximity to Southern Ontario.

“I get some rolling eyes when I say, ‘Buffalo’s doing a terrific job’,” said Charlie Dilks, a consultant and former president of the Association of University Research Parks. “They say, ‘Buffalo’s a dead city.’ I say, ‘No, it’s not.’

“That’s from people who haven’t been there and haven’t seen what’s going on. Unfortunately, it takes a long time for reputations to change.”

Other cities have found that a robust medical campus generates an array of benefits, from boosting health care, improving medical education, attracting research funds and creating jobs by taking innovations from the laboratory to the marketplace. That’s why cities, health care providers and universities pool resources.

“That’s what an academic medical center does,” said Candace S. Johnson, deputy director of Roswell Park Cancer Institute, citing the revenue generated at Pitt, where she previously worked. “It would be fantastic if we had that.”

The 11-year-old Buffalo Niagara campus is growing quickly, with two million square feet of space – or about 10 Walmart Supercenters – added in the past two years and another two million square feet planned by 2016. Employment on site will grow from 12,000 to 17,000 by then.

But the land-locked, 120-acre campus is starting to feel a space squeeze, with an Innovation Center that houses young companies nearly filled. Campus officials are thinking vertically and planning construction of a new center on top of a parking ramp to make better use of space.

“We can’t build five-story buildings anymore. We have to maximize the site,” said Patrick J. Whalen, the campus’ chief operating officer.

Life-sciences jobs

Other cities may have much bigger medical campuses, but the biomedical field is a crowded one, and the industry is big enough – and specialized enough – that no single region or institution can dominate, according to Simon J. Tripp, senior director of the technology partnership practice for Battelle, a global research and development organization.

The nation has about 125 academic medical centers, including Buffalo, and all are trying to build a life-sciences economy from the research they perform, Tripp said.

“The pie is so incredibly large that even a small slice, particularly for a community the size of Buffalo, can be a pretty significant economic engine,” he said.

The successful medical campuses have strong leadership, are treated as a community priority and their member institutions play nice with each other, said Dilks, the industry consultant. “I don’t think you’re too late to the game at all,” he said of Buffalo.

The hard part, Tripp added, is creating a “comprehensive innovation ecosystem,” with sufficient venture capital and veteran leadership to build and support a network of startups.

The region needs to capitalize on its strengths as a border community with an educated workforce and low cost of living, experts said, while finding a niche in a field such as genomics or cancer research.

“You get to where you’re recognized as a center of excellence in something,” said Thomas A. Kucharski, president and CEO of Buffalo Niagara Enterprise. “I think all that is starting to take hold on the medical campus. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of time.”

Collaboration models

The medical campus organization – which represents UB, Roswell Park, Kaleida Health and other institutions – is a model of collaboration that followed less-successful efforts in the 1980s and ’90s.

“I think people were ready,” said Thomas R. Beecher Jr., an attorney who headed the medical corridor planning effort in the early 2000s.

Local organizers extensively studied the best practices at other centers and research parks.

“Tom Beecher said, ‘No sense reinventing the wheel. Let’s steal shamelessly from other places,’ ” Whalen recalled.

The Buffalo team learned, for example, the organization that runs the vast Texas Medical Campus makes enough money from the 27,500 parking spaces it owns to cover its overhead costs. Now the entity that runs the Buffalo campus is “pretty much self-sufficient” from parking and Innovation Center rent revenue, Whalen said.

Community benefits

It will take time for the benefits of the medical campus development to reach the surrounding neighborhoods.

Ruth Bryant, a retired assistant dean in UB’s School of Architecture and Planning, serves as the Fruit Belt’s representative on the medical campus board. She said residents are concerned about boosting home ownership in their neighborhood, ensuring they have access to the jobs created on the campus and keeping the cars and SUVs of campus employees from crowding their streets.

“How do you respect that neighborhood while still growing?” Bryant asked. “It’s the residents working with the campus to come up with the solutions.”

Officials acknowledge the campus won’t be considered a success until research is spun off into biotech companies.

“If you look at other models and other communities out there, it’s the private sector investment that drives everything,” said Enstice.

Innovation Center

Not every life-sciences company will succeed – as the demise of SmartPill Corp. showed – but the Innovation Center on the Buffalo campus is spurring this effort.

There are 63 companies in the center named for Beecher, including a fourth-floor incubator.

The center hosts Bagel Fridays, where tenants casually engage over a light breakfast, and three projects have grown out of the weekly gatherings.

“The building has great energy,” said Rob Wynne, the president and executive creative director of Wynne Creative Group, an advertising agency that moved its six employees to the Innovation Center in 2012.

Mobile HealthCare Connections was the first incubator tenant. The company works with doctors, nurses and pharmacists to provide real-time, in-home monitoring and management of patients, particularly those who are elderly and less able to get around.

“It’s the heartbeat of the medical community,” CEO Brian Egan said.

The Innovation Center opened in 2010, part of a recent flurry of construction activity, and 5,000 more workers are expected on campus by 2016, when Children’s Hospital and UB Medical School are opened.

City Comptroller Mark J.F. Schroeder has asked Whalen, the campus’ chief operating officer, to meet with representatives of credit ratings agencies to show them the development taking place on the medical campus.

One woman from Standard & Poor’s, looking at a map of the campus, told Whalen they seem to be running out of room.

Thinking vertically

The campus has to think vertically, Whalen said, as when UB’s Clinical and Translational Research Center and Kaleida’s Gates Vascular Institute were stacked in the same building. One option for the second Innovation Center fits this model.

The campus needs to build another center to house Albany Molecular Research Inc. and the other tenants of a drug and medical research facility.

The first plan, which would have required tearing down part of the former Trico complex, ran into objections from preservationists.

Now, campus officials are looking at a different wp-contentroach: Tearing down the aging, city-owned Ellicott Goodrich Garage, known as the EGG, and replacing those 900 spaces with a 1,600-vehicle ramp and several floors of research space on top of the $87 million structure.

AMRI, the anchor tenant, and its partners are receiving a $50 million state grant to support their move to the campus.

The hope is the next AMRI won’t require any financial carrot, because the prospect of locating on the medical campus will be attraction enough.

“It’s the culture change this is bringing to Buffalo. The campus makes that undeniable,” said Marnie LaVigne, UB’s associate vice president for economic development. “I have my own mother asking me, ‘Is this real?’ It’s real.”

email: swatson@buffnews.com

UB, Empire Genomics Partner with Life Technologies to Accelerate Innovative, Genetics-based Clinical Research in WNY

Collaboration Will Strengthen Regional Life Sciences Industry

Empire Genomics, Life Technologies Corporation (NASDAQ: LIFE) and the University at Buffalo (UB) will embark on a new partnership to develop world-class gene sequencing facilities for genetics-based clinical research on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

The collaboration capitalizes on each organization’s strengths to help establish a new standard for genomic research in Western New York and continue to grow the life sciences sector of the region’s economy.

Life Technologies, a global provider of biotechnology products and services, will provide state-of-the-art genome sequencing equipment enabling UB and Empire Genomics to establish their initial set up of Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)-certified sequencing facilities on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

The advanced sequencing technology available from Life Technologies, combined with the expertise of UB researchers and the Empire Genomics team, will help clinical researchers develop new diagnostic tests that, in the future, could enable physicians to prescribe treatments tailored to each individual based on genetic make-up.

“We are very pleased that after carefully looking at all of the alternatives, the University at Buffalo and Empire Genetics decided that Ion semiconductor sequencing was the best platform to help them reach their goal of advancing genetics-based clinical research, and ultimately driving growth in the life sciences industry in Western New York,” said Mark Stevenson, president and chief operating officer at Life Technologies.

Achieving CLIA certification will enhance and expand the services Empire Genomics and UB provide to clients across the globe, and holds the promise of spawning new diagnostic tests for a number of diseases or conditions. The results will eventually lead to new tools to deliver better health care while growing new jobs in Western New York.

“This collaboration is a great example of the impact that can be made when industry and academic partners work together toward shared goals,” said Marnie LaVigne, PhD, associate vice president for economic development at UB. “We look forward to continuing to partner with Life Technologies and Empire Genomics on these efforts to support the advancement of genetics-based clinical research and the life sciences as key economic drivers in our region.”

The CLIA-certified laboratories will be set up at UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences and at the downtown Buffalo headquarters of Empire Genomics, a provider of genetics-based research and testing services.

“Genetics-based diagnostics will play a major role in developing personalized medicine, and that in turn will create new job opportunities in Western New York,” said Norma J. Nowak, PhD, founder and chief scientific officer at Empire Genomics and director of science and technology at UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences. “Leveraging our combined strengths will ensure that we remain at the forefront of technological and research capabilities while making greater long-term contributions to the public health.”

*All products referenced are for Research Use Only and not intended for use in diagnostic procedures, unless otherwise noted.

Kerry Jones Waring (UB CoE);  kerryjon@buffalo.edu
;716.881.7997

Media Coverage:

Collaboration Brings Genetic Testing to Med Campus

UB, Life-sciences Firms Partner on Gene Sequencing

 

 

Pursuing a Career in Life Sciences in Buffalo Niagara

The Life Sciences Commercialization Lecture Series will feature the “Pursuing a Life Sciences Career in Buffalo Niagara” panel discussion on Thursday, May 23rd from 4 – 5 p.m. in the Zebro Conference Room at the Roswell Park Center for Genetics and Pharmacology (701 Ellicott Street).  Moderated by Steve Kimmel-Hurt from the Superior Group, the panel will consists of companies like AMRI and Harmac Medical Products that will offer insight to individuals looking to learn more about the different life sciences and advanced manufacturing career opportunities.
With the  life sciences sector growing on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and throughout the region, the demand for a highly skilled and trained workforce is increasing. Hear from local life sciences firms about their workforce needs and why this is a great time to pursue a career in these exciting fields. To register to attend this free event, click here.

For more information about life sciences, medical device, and biotechnology companies on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and to learn more the each company’s area of focus, view the list of companies on the BNMC.

To learn more about specific opportunities offered by member institutions on the Medical Campus like Buffalo Hearing & Speech Center, Buffalo Medical Group, P.C., Center for Hospice and Palliative Care, Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute, Kaleida Health, Olmsted Center for Sight, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, University at Buffalo and Unyts, visit each individual website.

Additional resources:

5-23 Flyer

New Biotech Companies Move Into Innovation Center on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus

The Thomas R. Beecher, Jr. Innovation Center is pleased to welcome Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) spin-off companies Tartis Aging, Inc., and OncoTartis, Inc., as its newest tenants. The companies will occupy a combined 5,700-square-foot of wet lab and office space on the fourth floor of the building. Approximately half of this space will be built up as the companies continue to grow in size. Tartis
OncoTartis and Tartis Aging are discovery-stage biotechnology companies seeking novel anti-cancer and anti-aging drugs. Their proprietary technologies are licensed from the laboratories of Andrei Gudkov, PhD, from RPCI.

Dr. Gudkov was recruited to Buffalo by RPCI and other local partners in 2007. He moved his research lab and his first commercial company, Cleveland BioLabs, Inc. (CBLI), from the Cleveland Clinic to serve as Senior Vice President of Basic Science and Chair of the Department of Cell Stress Biology at Roswell Park.

The laboratory building at 73 High Street, shared with Cleveland BioLabs, Inc., had been the first home for both corporations. With 15 employees and a growing portfolio, the two companies have outgrown the space available on High Street but wanted to remain on the BNMC.

“We are very hwp-contenty to find space in the Innovation Center, which allows us to expand our research and at the same time continue to be close to our colleagues at CBLI and Roswell Park,” said Aleksandra Kotlyarova, Director of Operations for both companies.

“OncoTartis and Tartis Aging are perfect examples of what we need to see more of here in Buffalo,” said Patrick J. Whalen, Chief Operating Officer of the BNMC, Inc., which owns and operates the Innovation Center. “Dr. Gudkov and Cleveland BioLabs moved to the BNMC several years ago to better collaborate with Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and thanks to the groundbreaking research at Roswell Park, they continue to grow and spin off companies, creating more jobs and economic-development opportunities in Buffalo as they evolve.”

Kari Bonaro (BNMC, Inc.); kbonaro@bnmc-old.local; 716.218.7157

New Biotech Companies Move Into Innovation Center on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus

Banner Letterhead

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, March 11, 2013

For more information, contact:

Contact Kari Bonaro
kbonaro@bnmc-old.local, 716.218.7157

(BUFFALO, NY) – The Thomas R. Beecher, Jr. Innovation Center is pleased to welcome Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) spin-off companies Tartis Aging, Inc., and OncoTartis, Inc., as its newest tenants. The companies will occupy a combined 5,700 sq. ft. of wet lab and office space on the fourth floor of the building. Approximately half of this space will be built up as the companies continue to grow in size.

OncoTartis and Tartis Aging are discovery-stage biotechnology companies seeking novel anti-cancer and anti-aging drugs. Their proprietary technologies are licensed from the laboratories of Andrei Gudkov, PhD, from RPCI.

Dr. Gudkov was recruited to Buffalo by RPCI and other local partners in 2007. He moved his research lab and his first commercial company, Cleveland BioLabs, Inc. (CBLI), from the Cleveland Clinic to serve as Senior Vice President of Basic Science and Chair of the Department of Cell Stress Biology at Roswell Park.

The laboratory building at 73 High Street, shared with Cleveland BioLabs, Inc., had been the first home for both corporations. With 15 employees and a growing portfolio, the two companies have outgrown the space available on High Street but wanted to remain on the BNMC.

“We are very hwp-contenty to find space in the Innovation Center, which allows us to expand our research and at the same time continue to be close to our colleagues at CBLI and Roswell Park,” said Aleksandra Kotlyarova, Director of Operations for both companies.

“OncoTartis and Tartis Aging are perfect examples of what we need to see more of here in Buffalo,” said Patrick J. Whalen, Chief Operating Officer of the BNMC, Inc., which owns and operates the Innovation Center. “Dr. Gudkov and Cleveland BioLabs moved to the BNMC several years ago to better collaborate with Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and thanks to the groundbreaking research at Roswell Park, they continue to grow and spin off companies, creating more jobs and economic-development opportunities in Buffalo as they evolve.”

About the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus

The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC) is dedicated to the cultivation of a world-class medical campus for clinical care, research, education, and entrepreneurship on 120 acres in downtown Buffalo. It is home to the region’s top clinical, research, and medical education institutions, including: the University at Buffalo, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Olmsted Center for Sight, Kaleida Health, Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute, Buffalo Medical Group, Buffalo Hearing & Speech Center, Unyts, and the Center for Hospice and Palliative Care. There are over 40 public and private companies on the BNMC. More than 12,000 people come to work at the Medical Campus every day, and BNMC institutions see over one million patients and visitors annually. The Campus has an annual economic impact of $1.5 billion on the region. The Medical Campus consists of more than 6 million square feet of research, clinical, and support space.  bnmc-old.local

About Roswell Park Cancer Institute

The mission of Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. RPCI, founded in 1898, was one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit RPCI’s website at http://www.roswellpark.org, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or email askrpci@roswellpark.org.

About the Thomas R. Beecher Innovation Center

The Thomas R. Beecher, Jr. Innovation Center, located at 640 Ellicott Street in downtown Buffalo, is a LEED-certified research and development space housing life sciences and biotech companies, as well as companies offering support services like IP attorneys, talent acquisition, sales, and marketing. This state-of-the art facility is designed to accommodate small to medium companies seeking office, wet lab and/or research space, on a month-to-month basis or via longer term leases, located in the heart of the thriving Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. There are currently 40 companies located in the building.

The Innovation Center is owned and operated by the BNMC, Inc., a not-for-profit organization that fosters conversation and collaboration among its member institutions, their 12,000 employees, and the community; coordinates activities related to sustainable planning, development and enhancement of its 120-acre space; and works to create a distinct, innovative environment that provides opportunities for entrepreneurship and active and healthy living.

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OncoMed Pharmaceuticals

OncoMed Pharmaceuticals is a biotechnology company dedicated to improving cancer treatment by developing monoclonal antibodies and other agents that target the biologic pathways critical to tumor initiating cells, also known as “cancer stem cells”. OncoMed is leveraging our understanding of these tumor initiating cells to discover and develop novel therapeutics that could provide important alternatives for the treatment of cancer.
Website: www.oncomed.com

 

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