Columbia University, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and University of Rochester Recruit Exceptional Life Sciences Researchers Focused on Finding New Ways to Diagnose and Treat Medical Conditions

NYFIRST Awards Provide Capital Support to Upgrade and Outfit Their Laboratories 

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the inaugural grant recipients from the New York Fund for Innovation in Research and Scientific Talent, a $15 million medical school capital funding program to encourage recruitment and retention of exceptional life sciences researchers focused on translational research by supporting the establishment or upgrading of their laboratories. Translational research builds on basic scientific research to find new ways to diagnose and treat medical conditions. This year’s recipients include Columbia University and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, both in New York City, and the University of Rochester in the Finger Lakes. Each institution has recruited a top life science researcher whose lab will benefit from the NYFIRST award. 

“Life sciences is a critical and growing industry in New York State, and each of these institutions is reflective of the phenomenal talent, research and applied knowledge that have thrived here,” Governor Cuomo said. “I congratulate the recipients of the NYFIRST medical school grants and look forward to seeing them further bolster the budding life sciences industry in the Empire State.”

“These grants as part of the NYFIRST Awards are providing the resources needed to support the addition of workers and expansion of life science research,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul“The capital funding awarded as part of the program will allow the facilities to improve their laboratories and continue to lead in cutting-edge research and development to treat medical conditions and save lives.”

Each of these institutions is bringing top-notch translational research talent to New York from prominent research institutions across the country.

  • Columbia University has recruited Jordan Orange, MD, Ph.D., from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Dr. Orange, who will serve as chair of the Department of Pediatrics, is a highly regarded clinician scientist whose research has led to five patent applications. He applies advanced imaging techniques to understand the biology of genetic immunodeficiencies. One additional researcher from Baylor, Dr. Emily Mace, will join Dr. Orange at Columbia.
  • The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has recruited Julius C Hedden, III, Ph.D., from Harvard Medical School in Boston. Dr. Hedden’s research focuses on applying innovative imaging techniques to age-related neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.  His laboratory at Mount Sinai will be part of the school’s state-of-the-art Translational and Molecular Imaging Institute.
  • The University of Rochester has recruited Paula Vertino, Ph.D., a research scientist from Emory University in Atlanta recognized for her work on the role of epigenetics in cancer development, to serve as Director of Translational Research at the Wilmot Cancer Institute. She will be responsible for accelerating the development of laboratory discoveries into technologies, diagnostics, and cancer treatments. Three highly accomplished research scientists from Stanford University, The Wistar Institute, and the University of Utah will accompany Dr. Vertino to Rochester. 

NYFIRST makes a maximum grant of $1 million available to eligible institutional applicants to modernize, renovate and upgrade laboratory facilities to attract world-class scientists to medical schools in New York State. Program grant awards are made through a competitive grant solicitation until funds are fully committed. Grantees are required to provide $2 in matching funds for every $1 of NYFIRST program assistance.


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