SBU researchers win health grants

Lyme disease expert Jorge Benach was one of three Stony Brook researchers awarded funding by the SUNY Research Foundation's health excellence program.

Three Stony Brook Medicine researchers have received financial backing from the SUNY Health Network of Excellence.

The network, part of the SUNY Research Foundation, has granted a total of $450,000 to SBU-led programs targeting GI cancers, Lyme disease and pediatric health issues.

Each project has received a one-year grant award of $150,000 from the health network, effective this month. As one of six SUNY Networks of Excellence, the health network unites scientists, scholars and corporate partners for collaborative research efforts in critical healthcare areas.

The health network granted $150,000 each to Dr. Ellen Li, chief of Stony Brook Medicine’s gastroenterology and hepatology division and the principal investigator of a research project uniting SBU and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory; Dr. Jorge Benach, chairman of SBU’s molecular genetics and microbiology department and director of the university’s Center for Infectious Diseases; and Dr. Susmita Pati, an associate professor and chief of primary care pediatrics at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital.

Li’s project, which also involves researchers from SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, is a study of the racial and cultural differences in gastrointestinal cancer cases.

Benach, an internationally recognized Lyme disease researcher, is heading a comprehensive study of the chronic outcomes of Lyme disease.

Pati is the principal investigator of an initiative spanning five SUNY campuses that’s looking to leverage big data to improve primary care delivery and reduce health disparities for high-risk children.

The awards were based on a number of SUNY-based RFPs submitted to the network earlier this year. According to the network, funding is available for the development of multi-campus research projects that could become the foundation of “long-term, sustainable research partnerships.”

The awarded projects also have “the highest potential for major awards from federal, state, private and/or industrial sponsors.”

In 2014, the SUNY Research Foundation made over 6,900 SUNY system-wide awards totaling $1 billion. Funded projects resulted in 244 patent filings and 70 patents issued, as well as the execution of 47 licensing agreements.