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Grant to help develop advanced lasers used in drug R&D

Ashley Hirtzel

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded the University at Buffalo a $25 million Science and Technology Center grant Wednesday.

The funds will allow UB to collaborate with several institutions across the country to develop new X-ray lasers utilized in bioimaging. Bioimaging is a branch of radiology that allows for information to be visualized in 3D

The award will also be used to build a new research center in Buffalo called BioXFEL. The CEO of Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute, Eaton Lattman, will be the director of BioXFEL. He says scientists at the facility will be using the advanced X-ray lasers to research drug targets in the human body.

“What we’re going to do with this is look at proteins in our body that serve as drug targets and, once we know what they look like, we’re much more capable of making drugs that interact with them,” said Lattman.

Speaking at the announcement, Rep. Brian Higgins said it is crucial to continue to fund scientific research.

“The federal grant demonstrates the strength of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus institutions to serve as outliers in science and medical innovation. Not only will it advance critical research, [but also] this significant investment will advance economic growth in the City of Buffalo,” said Higgins.

Vice President of Research and Economic Development at Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute Alexander Cartwright says the National Science Foundation only awarded three grants this year. He says UB is in good company. The other two went to MIT and Harvard University.

The University at Buffalo will collaborate with researchers at Arizona State University, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Milwaukee, Cornell University, Rice University, the University of California, San Francisco and Stanford University on the project.