SBU joins elite HHS business-development task force

In case of emergency: Stony Brook University's Center for Biotechnology is now part of a nationwide business-accelerator network focused on the detection of (and response to) infectious diseases and other public health threats.

Stony Brook University will join an elite roster of national institutions in a new business-development feeder system devised by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Introduced Tuesday as a business-accelerator program under the auspices of BARDA, HHS’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, the nationwide network will foster development of new “health security” protocols – that is, preparedness to respond to threats ranging from chemical attacks and radiological terrorism to pandemic influenza and other biological outbreaks.

Through the Research Foundation for SUNY, Stony Brook’s Center for Biotechnology will spearhead New York’s regional efforts to translate biomedical science into health-security innovations, joining a high-caliber collection of nationwide sites as feeders to the BARDA business-acceleration program.

Also announced Tuesday as program participants were North Carolina’s First Flight Venture Center, the Los Angeles-based MedTech Innovator and the New Orleans BioInnovation Center, along with Houston’s Texas Medical Center Innovation Institute, the Seattle-based Life Science Washington Institute, the University City Science Center in Philadelphia and the Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center, part of UMASS-Lowell.

Robert Kadlec, the HHS’s assistant secretary for preparedness and response, announced SBU and the other accelerator sites as part of the 2018 BIO International Convention, a global biotech/pharma gathering taking place this week in Boston.

The HHS said the eight sites will network together to create “a transformative approach to accelerate innovation, leveraging cutting-edge health technology and a pro-investment economy” and ultimately “focus(ing) investors and innovators on urgent and expensive health-security problems.”

Clinton Rubin: Biomedical mining expedition.

The accelerator sites will support and ultimately feed early-stage health-science enterprises to BARDA’s newly formed Division of Research, Innovation and Ventures. The BARDA DRIVEe program will oversee the accelerator network and is busily recruiting a nonprofit partner to attract private investors, according to the HHS.

Though any research path exploring the prevention, detection and/or treatment of infectious diseases is fair game, early detection will be a primary focus of the nationwide effort, along with the development of advanced protocols for the prevention and treatment of sepsis.

With health-security projects across Long Island and the New York City metropolitan region in its sights, the Center for Biotechnology is set to receive $500,000 over five years from BARDA but expects to become “a portal to additional funding going forward,” the university said Tuesday.

Center for Biotechnology Director Clinton Rubin, a distinguished professor in SBU’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, said the center would use its BARDA funding to “mine the robust academic portfolio of biomedical research within metropolitan New York.”

“We are very excited that Stony Brook University’s Center for Biotechnology has been selected as one of eight … accelerators nationwide,” Rubin told Innovate LI, adding the center was an ideal feeder to “fast-track these early-stage technologies to HHS-BARDA to complete follow-on funding, technology development (and) federal and venture funding.

“We hope this support represents the beginning of a long, strong relationship with BARDA and a growing presence of biotech development in the New York metro region,” Rubin said.

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