An SBU sweep in Bioscience Hub’s latest round

Economic sciences: The Long Island Bioscience Hub is announcing its fourth financing round, with $400,000 backing five different Stony Brook University projects.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

Five research projects targeting advanced medical-imaging applications, computer-based drug discoveries and a range of new pharmaceutical treatments will be backed by the Long Island Bioscience Hub.

The Center for Biotechnology at Stony Brook University, on behalf of the LIBH, announced Tuesday the fourth funding round of the Hub’s technology-commercialization initiative. This time around, a total of $400,000 has been earmarked for two “feasibility” and three “proof of concept” awards, each backing biomedical innovations in various stages of development.

The Hub – a National Institutes of Health-supported partnership between Stony Brook University, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory and the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research – is funded by a $3 million NIH award and more than $5 million in contributions from those member institutions, as well as stipends from the SUNY Research Foundation and Empire State Development, Albany’s main economic-development division.

The fourth round is a clean sweep for Stony Brook University researchers, with all five awards going to SBU-based projects. This marks the first time in four funding rounds that a single member institution has claimed all of the research grants.

It also marks the lowest funding round to date for the LIBH, which backed 13 projects – to the tune of $900,000 – in its initial December 2015 funding round. The Hub followed that with a 10-project, $600,000 round in May 2016 and a $550,000 round in November 2016 that also backed 10 distinct projects.

This time, two feasibility awards of $50,000 each were presented to researchers exploring a novel anti-fungal treatment for life-threatening blood infections and a new computational method for macrocyclic drug discovery.

Proof-of-concept awards – weighing in at $100,000 apiece – are being awarded this cycle for a drug-sensitive and drug-resistant TB combination therapy, a novel therapeutic for the treatment of colorectal cancer and a next-generation medical imaging tool with applications in mammography.

Clinton Rubin: ‘Major impacts’ from LIBH.

“Feasibility awards” are designed to rapidly test the viability of new ideas in a “fail-fast-or-proceed” format, or to add value to existing intellectual property leading to new market applications. Proof-of-Concept awards offer targeted, milestone-driven support for further development, testing and analysis of existing IP, according to the LIBH.

Although the fourth round has a decidedly SBU flavor, it successfully continues the Hub’s primary mission of biomedical exploration and commercial development, according to Center for Biotechnology Director Clinton Rubin, who noted specific synergies with the SUNY Research Excellence in Academic Health effort and the U.S. Small Business Association’s Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs.

“While the Long Island Bioscience Hub is only two years in existence, it has already had major impacts including the establishment of four companies,” noted Rubin, who also chairs SBU’s Department of Biomedical Engineering. “Additionally, this round of funding further enhances the LIBH-REACH pipeline that already has resulted in eight patent applications, five options/licenses and more than 40 SBIR/STTR applications related to REACH technologies.”

The LIBH’s successes to date “demonstrate that we need to continue to foster the activities of the Hub,” according to Richard Reeder, SBU’s vice president for research.

“I applaud the efforts of the Long Island Bioscience Hub as they continue to draw out the cutting-edge biomedical innovations that exist within our research labs and … work with faculty innovators and the local bioscience community to accelerate commercial development,” Reeder said Monday. “Stony Brook University is deeply committed to the translation of basic research.”

Including Tuesday’s round, roughly $2.5 million has been awarded through the LIBH since December 2015 to further the development of commercially promising biomedical technologies.