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$7.4M Grants to RNA Institute

By Dave Lucas


Albany, NY – Ribonucleic acid - also called RNA - controls certain chemical processes in our cells, and it plays a critical role in many human disorders. Researchers in the pharmaceutical field hope RNA-based therapeutics will open doors to new treatment options for a number of difficult-to-treat ailments like breast cancer, and drug resistant infections. Work in this field is underway at The University at Albany's fledgling RNA Institute, which is receiving millions in federal stimulus money, and matching funds from New York State. WAMC's Capitol District Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports

Launched just five months ago, the RNA Institute has been awarded $5.4 million in federal stimulus money through the National Institutes of Health plus $2 million in matching state funds. The funding will finance the design, engineering and construction of a research center similar to those found in modern pharmaceutical companies.

"This federal investment in the University at Albany will help The RNA Institute move forward with cutting edge research and development that could lead to exciting new discoveries in the treatment of disease," said Congressman Paul Tonko (NY-21). "Congratulations to UAlbany for putting together a public-private partnership that has great potential to grow into an economic engine for the Capital Region."

The RNA Institute Director Dr. Paul F. Agris noted, "in this tough economic environment, peer reviewed validation of RNA-based drug discovery and NIH financial support for the Institute's vision are incredibly exciting for the UAlbany research community and for the greater Capital Region."

The RNA Institute comprises more than 40 principal university and government research entities whose work has generated more than 250 grant-funded staff positions in New York's Capital Region. The RNA Institute-affiliated researchers in the Capital District are currently receiving approximately $12 million per year in federal grant funding.

Construction bids are to go out in April 2011, with construction to follw in July. The 15,000-square-foot research center is scheduled for completion in July 2012. The facility will be located in UAlbany's Life Sciences building.

See also: RNA-related story from November 10, 2008, New York Times.