Weill Cornell Collaborates on Award-Winning Biomedical Product Development
NEW YORK (June 6, 2012) — Four local scientists — including one from Cornell University — have been awarded a total of $1 million from the Partnership for New York City (PFNYC) to fund the final stages of research on the new biomedical products that will be developed in the five boroughs.
The scientists won the award, announced June 4, in the third round of the annual BioAccelerate NYC Prize competition. The competition is run by the Partnership's nonprofit Investment Fund, founded by Henry R. Kravis, which is dedicated to business development and job creation throughout New York City. The Fund is capitalized by private contributions from the city's leading corporations and investment firms. Working together with the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), the Partnership and its Fund have led efforts to build a bioscience industry in the city, resulting in a 74 percent increase in the number of biotech and health sciences industry jobs in the city from 2005 to 2010.
More than 200 scientists from 12 New York research institutions competed for funding through the BioAccelerate NYC Prize, reflecting the significant level of life sciences research activity underway in the city. This year's scientists will each be awarded $250,000 to assist in bringing their products to market in New York City. Each winner is also provided with a highly experienced mentor, to help with the process of commercialization and business development.
"We are fortunate to have some of the world's finest scientists and researchers call New York home. The BioAccelerate NYC Prize will allow them to accelerate their research and create jobs in our communities," said Maria Gotsch, president & CEO of the Partnership's Investment Fund. "By encouraging some of the brightest New Yorkers to stay in the city, and others to come to our city, we can develop the next wave of innovative bioscience products right here in the five boroughs."
"We are pleased to join with the Partnership for New York City on this important prize," said NYCEDC President Seth W. Pinsky. "By providing the critical funding necessary for scientists to turn their innovative technologies into commercially viable products, together we are helping to create new businesses and additional jobs that provide a major boost to our emerging bioscience sector and our economy as a whole."
"For too long, New York was a global leader in medical research and discovery, but failed to maximize the economic benefits of making the resulting products locally," stated Kathryn Wylde, president & CEO of PFNYC. "We are determined that New York ideas should be commercialized right here at home, which requires the financing and entrepreneurial support that the BioAccelerate Prize provides."
The winners were selected after a competitive process in which all applicants were vetted by venture capitalists and senior executives from the life science industry. Below are the four winners selected for 2012:
Dr. Alexander Travis, Cornell University: Dr. Travis and his colleagues at the Baker Institute and Weill Cornell Medical College have developed a diagnostic test to determine male fertility. The test will help couples contemplating costly fertility treatments determine whether certain treatments may be beneficial. Results from this test would enable clinicians to counsel patients toward an appropriate fertility treatment, sparing them the enormous physical, emotional and financial costs associated with failed treatment cycles. BioAccelerate funds will be used for clinical studies at Weill Cornell Medical College. Dr. Travis has been mentored by Mr. Jerry Korten, former CEO of Versamed, a company he sold to General Electric.
"It is deeply gratifying that the BioAccelerate Prize is being awarded to advance the meaningful accomplishments resulting from intercampus collaborations between the Cornell campus in Ithaca and the Weill Cornell Medical College campus in New York City," commented Dr. Laurie H. Glimcher, Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Provost of Medical Affairs Cornell University. "We are very excited to see the pioneering work of Dr. Alex Travis in biomarker development be translated through the collaborative efforts of clinician-scientists, Dr. Peter Schlegel, Dr. Gianpiero Palermo and Dr. Darius Paduch, to have beneficial effects for couples seeking fertility treatment."
Dr. Ramunaj Dasgupta, NYU School of Medicine: Dr. Dasgupta is developing a new treatment that could reduce the side effects of certain existing cancer drugs. Dr. Dasgupta has developed a way to target a specific region on select molecules to make them more accessible to cancer inhibitors, without the side effects that have plagued other similar drugs. The BioAccelerate funds will be used to test some of the identified compounds for their suitability in the treatment. Dr. Dasgupta is being mentored by Edward Garmey, the Chief Medical Officer of Cerulean Pharmaceuticals.
"Dr. Dasgupta is a tenacious investigator who exemplifies the innovation, creativity and out-of-the-box thinking that permeates our research enterprise," said Dafna Bar-Sagi, PhD, senior vice president and vice dean for Science and chief scientific officer at NYU School of Medicine. "We are very proud to have him as a member of our faculty and are thrilled that the Partnership for New York City is recognizing his existing achievements and the vast potential of his work in improving the lives of cancer patients."
Dr. Suzanne Maher, Hospital for Special Surgery: Dr. Maher is developing an implant to treat and halt the progression of osteoarthritis, a condition in which the cartilage in your joints deteriorates. The BioAccelerate funds will enable Dr. Maher and her team to further test the implants before they can be tested in humans. Dr. Maher's mentor is Mr. Frank DeBernardis, founder/CEO of Nascent Ventures.
"We couldn't be more excited to see Dr. Suzanne Maher and her team recognized with the highly competitive BioAccelerate Prize," said Louis A. Shapiro, President and CEO at Hospital for Special Surgery. "This award will help them bring their innovative research a step closer to reality for the estimated 500,000 Americans who undergo surgery for cartilage injury each year."
Dr. Michael Ohlmeyer, Mount Sinai School of Medicine: Dr. Ohlmeyer is working on adapting a gene called FOX-1, which functions as a tumor suppressor. In certain very aggressive cancers such as breast and ovarian, the FOX-1 protein is unable to naturally suppress tumors. Dr. Ohlmeyer and his team have identified a number of compounds that can assist FOX-1 to better resist aggressive cancers and utilize its tumor suppressing function in cells. Dr. Ohlmeyer and his team are being mentored by Dr. Laura Philips, a board member at Delcath Systems.
"Mount Sinai is very proud of Dr. Ohlmeyer and his team for the distinguished BioAccelerate prize through the Partnership for New York City and the New York City Investment Fund," stated Kenneth L. Davis, MD, President and CEO of The Mount Sinai Medical Center. "The innovative technologies' being developed here at Mount Sinai and across New York City paired with promising ventures like PFNYC is a promising model for translating discovery to the market."
The judges for the 2012 prize are:
- Colin Bier, Senior Advisor, NGN Capital
- Katherine E. Breedis, Sr. Dir., Global External Research & Development Eli Lilly and Company
- Nicholas J. Conti, Vice President, Quest Diagnostics
- Howard M. Fillit, Executive Director, Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation
- Carl L. Gordon, General Partner, OrbiMed Advisors LLC
- William Greenlee, Principal, MedChem Discovery Consulting LLC
- David Hickey, Chief Executive Officer, Laboratory Business - Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics
- Anders Hove, General Partner, Venrock
- Elaine V. Jones, Executive Director, Venture Capital, Pfizer Inc.
- Avi Kulkarni, Principal, Booz & Company
- Ronald W. Lennox, Partner, CHL Medical Partners
- Paddy C. Mullen, Chief Executive Officer, DiscoveryOrtho Partners LLC
- Lillian Oshva, Assistant Professor, New York University Medical Center
- Mary Lake Polan, Adjunct Professor, Columbia School of Medicine, Department of OBGYN
- Dennis J. Purcell, Senior Managing Director, Aisling Capital
- Liam Ratcliffe, General Partner, New Leaf Venture Partners
- Allen Reitz, Chief Executive Officer, Fox Chase Chemical Diversity Center, Inc.
- Geoffrey W. Smith, Managing Partner, Ascent Biomedical Ventures
- Kristy Sundjaja, Sr. Director, Center for Economic Transformation, NYCEDC
- Martin Vogelbaum, Partner, Rho Capital Partners, Inc.
- Alex Zisson, Partner, Thomas, Mcnerney & Partners
For more information about the BioAccelerate NYC Prize and this year's winners, visit www.BioAccelerateNYC.org.
About the Sponsors
With a mission to maintain the city's position as a global center of commerce, culture and innovation, the Partnership for New York City is an organization of the leaders of New York City's top corporate, investment, and entrepreneurial firms. The Partnership works with city and state government officials, labor groups, and the nonprofit sector to promote the interest of the city and its neighborhoods. The Partnership carries out research, policy formulation, and issue advocacy at the city, state, and federal levels, leveraging the resources and expertise of its CEO and Corporate partners. Partnership companies account for nearly 7 million American jobs and contribute over $740 billion to the national GDP. Through its affiliate, the New York City Investment Fund, the Partnership directly invests in economic development projects in all five boroughs of the city.
New York City Economic Development Corporation is the City's primary vehicle for promoting economic growth in each of the five boroughs. NYCEDC's mission is to stimulate growth through expansion and redevelopment programs that encourage investment, generate prosperity and strengthen the City's competitive position. NYCEDC serves as an advocate to the business community by building relationships with companies that allow them to take advantage of New York City's many opportunities. Find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our blog to learn more about NYCEDC projects and initiatives.
Weill Cornell Medical College
Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell University's medical school located in New York City, is committed to excellence in research, teaching, patient care and the advancement of the art and science of medicine, locally, nationally and globally. Physicians and scientists of Weill Cornell Medical College are engaged in cutting-edge research from bench to bedside, aimed at unlocking mysteries of the human body in health and sickness and toward developing new treatments and prevention strategies. In its commitment to global health and education, Weill Cornell has a strong presence in places such as Qatar, Tanzania, Haiti, Brazil, Austria and Turkey. Through the historic Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, the Medical College is the first in the U.S. to offer its M.D. degree overseas. Weill Cornell is the birthplace of many medical advances — including the development of the Pap test for cervical cancer, the synthesis of penicillin, the first successful embryo-biopsy pregnancy and birth in the U.S., the first clinical trial of gene therapy for Parkinson's disease, and most recently, the world's first successful use of deep brain stimulation to treat a minimally conscious brain-injured patient. Weill Cornell Medical College is affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, where its faculty provides comprehensive patient care at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. The Medical College is also affiliated with the Methodist Hospital in Houston. For more information, visit weill.cornell.edu.