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Upstate creates global biomedical research institute with universities in Israel, Taiwan

SYRACUSE, N.Y.— SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, N.Y., the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel, and National Cheng Kung University in Tainan City, Taiwan, have announced the creation of the International Institute of Biomedical Sciences and Technology that will facilitate the collaboration of research across three continents and accelerate the development of novel bioengineering, diagnostic and biomedical products for the treatment and cure of disease, officials announced today.

Presidents from the three institutions (David R. Smith, M.D., Upstate Medical University; Yitzhak Apeloig, Ph.D., Technion Israel Institute of Technology; Michael Ming-Chiao Lai, M.D., Ph.D., National Cheng Kung University) signed a wide-ranging Memorandum of Understanding that describes how each institution will support the global research initiative and how it will conduct business.

"For a research university in the 21st century, especially one with a strong bent in life sciences because of our outstanding medical school and affiliated teaching hospitals, it is imperative that we develop sustainable collaborations with medical schools in other continents," said Michael M.C. Lai, president of NCKU. "It is for this reason that NCKU is proud to participate in this very important consortium with Upstate and the Technion."

Technion President Professor Yitzhak Apeloig stated that "the Technion, with its strong engineering and medical faculties and its global outreach welcomes and appreciates the great potential benefits of this collaboration and enthusiastically supports the creation of the new institute."

Upstate President David R. Smith, M.D., hailed the creation of the institute as a new era of worldwide research collaboration. "Three distinct institutions worlds away will now join forces to expedite new discoveries and breakthrough in medical science," he said. "The relationship opens our laboratories to greater participation from the world's premier scientists across the globe. This institute also creates an international stage for Syracuse and Central New York and helps amplify our region's strengths in biomedical research."

Upstate's Steven Goodman, PhD., Vice President for Research and Dean of the College of Graduate Studies, will serve as the institute's executive director and be responsible for the daily activities of the institute. A founders board also will be created, comprised of researchers from the faculty of the partnering institutions. Meetings will be held annually to set direction and long-term goals of the institution. The Institute will grow from these three initial Founding Institutions to incorporate other universities and medical schools worldwide

"The creation of this cross-continent research institute immediately brings all three campuses together in the name of scientific discovery," Goodman said "The purpose of the Institute is to bring together top scientists in the biological, physical, mathematical, engineering and computer sciences to form interdisciplinary teams aimed at solving essential issues in human health and society."

Goodman said that researchers at the three founding institutions have expressed an interest in collaborating with others at institutions around the globe. "Collaboration in research is not limited to the scientist down the hall," he said. "We are breaking down the barriers between scientific disciplines and nations to bring together great minds around the globe to solve health problems that require teams of researchers to solve."

The areas highlighted for research collaboration, which are still being discussed, are expected to include cancer; infectious diseases; diabetes and cardiovascular disease; and disorders of the nervous system. But Goodman notes this decision will ultimately be made by faculty from the three institutions.

The idea to create the Institute with these select institutions grew out of Goodman's work with Da Hsuan Feng, a Senior Executive Vice President at NCKU who worked with Goodman at the University of Texas at Dallas from 2001 to 2008. Both Goodman and Feng subsequently developed a friendship with Aaron Ciechanover, M.D., a Nobel laureate in chemistry, who serves on the faculty of Technion. "We were quite interested in pursuing this global research endeavor and brought the ideas to our respective administrations," Goodman said.

Upstate Medical University, located in Syracuse, N.Y., records annual research expenditures near $40 million, with significant research activity in nervous system disorders; diabetes; metabolic disorders; and cardiovascular disease; cancer; and infectious diseases. Upstate, one of four academic medical centers in the State University of New York system, educates and trains research scientists, physicians, nurses and a variety of other health professionals.

Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa is Israel's oldest university and its leading comprehensive center for advanced scientific and technological research. It is and one of only a handful of technical institutes in the world with a medical school, partnering research in nanotechnology, fiber optics and other technical areas with work in the life sciences and medicine.

NCKU is located in the ancient city of Tainan, which is approximately 250 kilometers south of Taipei. It is connected to all major cities in Taiwan by the recently initiated state-of-the-art Taiwan High Speed Rail. With three quarters of a century of distinguished history, with well over 130,000 alumni now dotting the globe, 22,000 students and 1,200 faculty, NCKU in Tainan, Taiwan, has evolved from its engineering genesis to become a powerful comprehensive, research and international university in Asia Pacific.