Tom Maniatis’ Dream of a NY Genome Center Becomes a Big Apple Reality

9/19/13Follow @benthefidler

For the past year, the New York Genome Center has existed only as 3,000 square feet of rented space in Manhattan’s Rockefeller University, rather than the sprawling genomics hub molecular biology pioneer Tom Maniatis has long envisioned.

Today, that all changed.

In one of the bigger steps forward for the life sciences ecosystem in New York in recent memory, the NYGC today officially opened its permanent research facility—a 170,000-square-foot space at 101 6th Ave., just north of Canal St. on Manhattan’s Lower West Side. The NYGC has big dreams: it is meant to become a driving force for all of the area’s major research institutions to work together, share ideas, and turn the increasing flood of genomic data into real medical innovations.

Roughly 300 people packed into the building’s lobby and café for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, which included keynote addresses from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, NYGC president and director Robert Darnell, and of course Maniatis, the conceptual founder, and chairman of the NYGC’s scientific and clinical steering committee.

Tom Maniatis

Tom Maniatis

“The [NYGC] came to life based on the common understanding that medical genomics is far too expensive and complex for any one institution to tackle on its own,” Maniatis said. “The [NYGC] will not only provide large-scale genomic sequencing, but it will bring together the entire New York community to tackle the problem of making biological and medical sense of large data sets.”

Indeed, collaboration is the crux of this effort. The NYGC is a massive partnership between 12 of New York’s biggest medical research institutions, among them: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Columbia University, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Cornell University/Weill Cornell Medical College, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Rockefeller University, Mount Sinai Medical Center, and others. It is backed by $140 million in funding from those founding members, philanthropic funds (such as Bloomberg Philanthropies), and local government initiatives (like the New York City Economic Development Corp.).

The idea, in a way, is that the NYGC will be the lynchpin of New York’s life sciences ecosystem—a central place for academic laboratories, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, biotechs, information technology specialists, scientists from different fields, and others, to share information, work together, run sponsored clinical trials, and generate translational research that leads to new innovations. The NYGC will thus … Next Page »

Ben Fidler is Xconomy's Deputy Biotechnology Editor. You can e-mail him at bfidler@xconomy.com Follow @benthefidler

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  • inara

    Used to work for the NYGC. It is all snake oil…… The business administration cares little for quality science or research (BTW, there are not 30 “researchers” working there, lol, unless a “researcher” is a lab. tech. or front-desk secretary), only for “fast and cheap”. The sequencing managers are of questionable quality, and the IT “vision” belongs in a fortune cookie (e.g., “you will promise great things, and deliver on none”). The founding members are certainly not sacrificing much by contributing to the endeavor: if it works, great, we get cheap sequencing; if not, we still have our in-house stuff and now we know what not to do….