Albany backs NYIT’s next-gen bioengineering lab

Breakthrough: A $150,000 Empire State Development Corp. grant will help NYIT establish a state-of-the-art bioengineering laboratory in Old Westbury.

A new bioengineering laboratory is coming to the New York Institute of Technology’s Old Westbury campus, thanks to a hefty state award.

The Empire State Development Corp. on Wednesday announced a $150,000 grant that will help NYIT establish the Bio-Nanotechnology and Biomaterials Laboratory, a research- and innovation-focused bioengineering lab packed with next-level tech facilitating specialized research into complex bioengineering, artificial-intelligence and life-sciences issues.

The grant was awarded through Round 7 of Albany’s Regional Economic Development Council initiative, which concluded in December. The Long Island REDC was a “Top Performer” in the 2017 round of the annual statewide funding competition, capturing a mighty $84.3 million state stipend.

It has since been doling out funds to regional economic-development projects that applied during the 2017 round, many of which are aligned with the regional council’s biotech focus.

Enter the new Innovation Bioengineering Laboratory, which will be located in NYIT’s Harry Schure Hall and stocked wall-to-wall with state-of-the art equipment designed specifically to dive deep into the life sciences.

Azhar Ilyas: Engineering and biology meet at the intersection of life-science innovation.

In addition to accessing an array of micro- and nano-scale biosensors and biomaterials, researchers will find a “paste-extrusion 3D printer,” a UV-vis spectrophotometer and a cutting-edge fluorescent microscope at the ready – tools that will help synthesize new biomedical devices, develop better biosensors, create new early-detection protocols for a host of diseases and otherwise unlock the mysteries of bioactivity.

Azhar Ilyas, an assistant NYIT professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the new Bio-Nanotechnology and Biomaterials Laboratory, said the new lab should be in working shape by August and will bridge critical gaps on the road to bioengineering breakthroughs.

“Integration of engineering and biology at the very small scale can offer tremendous opportunities for solving important problems in health sciences and medicine,” the doctor noted.

The laboratory will also “support training and certifications in high-wage, in-demand tech fields for a broad base of students,” according to NYIT, including veterans and their families.

That’s right in line with NYIT’s mission to become “the go-to place for outstanding engineering talent,” according to Interim Dean Babak Beheshti.

“NYIT’s purpose is to prepare the next generation for the jobs and opportunities of the future,” Beheshti said Wednesday.

The $150,000 grant is only the latest NYIT award bestowed by the ESDC, Albany’s main economic-development agency, through the annual REDC competition and otherwise. The state agency has awarded the NYIT School of Engineering and Computing Sciences more than $1 million in support of its Entrepreneurship and Technology Innovation Center and other efforts, including a cybersecurity laboratory and technology incubator.

In concert with the ESDC, the LIREDC is always on the lookout for worthy life-sciences initiatives, according to LIREDC co-chairs Stuart Rabinowitz, president of Hofstra University, and Kevin Law, president of the Long Island Association. And the new laboratory at NYIT – an official NYS Certified Business Incubator – certainly makes the grade.

“The LIREDC has consistently supported a thriving biotech and life-sciences corridor on Long Island,” the co-chairs said in a statement. “This $150,000 grant for a new Research and Technology Innovation Bioengineering Laboratory at NYIT … builds on the momentum we’re seeing across the region.”

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