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UAlbany unveils RNA Institute

State-of-the art facility will be home to genetic research on Alzheimer’s, HIV, cancer and more

The RNA Institute at the University of Albany will house 60 biomedical scientists, technicians and researchers to explore treatments of Alzheimer’s, MRSA, HIV/AIDS, cancer and more.

The RNA Institute at the University of Albany will house 60 biomedical scientists, technicians and researchers to explore treatments of Alzheimer’s, MRSA, HIV/AIDS, cancer and more. Photo by Zan Strumfeld.

— A unique, state-of-the-art concept turned into a reality Tuesday, June 11, when the University at Albany opened the doors to its brand new biomedical technology development facility.

After three years of building the $9.4 million project, the RNA Institute at the University of Albany is ready to be the home of work on drug discovery, technology development and diagnostics. The 15,000-square-foot building will house 60 biomedical scientists, technicians and administrative employees in the north wing of the Life Science Research building on the university’s uptown campus.

The institute is set up to focus on RNA, or ribonucleic acid, which is a fundamental molecule that plays a vital role in all living organisms. Researchers will concentrate on treatments for viruses, infections and diseases including MRSA, Alzheimer’s, HIV/AIDS, ALS and some of the more difficult types of cancers.

Several university and state officials spoke before a large crowd at the unveiling of the new facility. The institute secured $32.7 million in combined public and private investments through state, federal, corporate and the university partners for the project, including $15.4 million in NYSUNY 2020 and University at Albany investments. NYSTAR matched $400,000 to the $5.4 million NIH American Recovery and Reinvestment Act construction award. The Capital Region Economic Development Council designated work on the facility as a priority project.

In 2012, the institute received a $2 million grant from Empire State Development as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council initiative. He also connected the new facility to his Tax-Free NY proposal, under which businesses located on and partnering with universities would operate tax-free.

“The ‘Tax-Free NY’ model will help the RNA Institute and similar centers across the state to take the next step in becoming economic hubs for innovation and commercialization, attracting new business and investment to Upstate New York,” Cuomo said in a statement.

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