U of R awarded $19 million grant to lead national medical research

University of Rochester President Joel Seligman announces Wednesday that the university has been awarded a $19 million grant that will put it at the center of medical research underway all across the country. (WHAM photo)

Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) - The University of Rochester has been awarded a $19 million grant that will put it at the center of medical research underway all across the country.

The money, announced Wednesday morning, comes from the National Institutes of Health. "It's a big deal," said U of R President & CEO Joel Seligman.

In awarding the grant, the NIH recognizes the university is way out in front when it comes to turning medical research into something that makes a difference for patients. For example, premature babies and their parents are breathing easier thanks to a discovery that started in the lab.

Researchers at URMC first helped to identify molecules missing in the lungs of infants born before their lungs are fully developed. That led to the discovery and use of Surfactant, which allows the lungs to work better.

Other research at the university is responsible for three vaccines - including one to help prevent cervical cancer.

"We are very good at basic research, but to be able to translate that into help for people is an ultimate achievement for a medical center to be able to do," said Seligman.

Now the NIH is asking URMC to take a leadership role: to coordinate research discoveries from all across the country.

"It's truly an honor to be chosen by the NIH as the central hub of all of these clinical research institutions," said URMC Dean & CEO Mark Tubman. "It's an honor, but not a surprise."

The money will be used to establish and run CLIC - The Center for Leading Innovation and Collaboration. Twenty people will be hired to operate software and facilitate communications that will allow more than 50 research organizations to share their discoveries.

The goal is to speed up the time between a research breakthrough until an actual drug, device or procedure is available on the market to help people.

University of Rochester Board Chairman Danny Wegman summed it up this way.

"It's having the opportunity for the wonderful people at our university to really make a difference in this world."

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