Governor Cuomo Announces $250,000 in SUNY Awards to Support Medical Research and Innovation

April 18, 2014

From the Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo


$50,000 Awarded to Five SUNY Researchers to Improve Medical Care and Technology

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that five new projects have been selected for investment by the SUNY Technology Accelerator Fund (TAF), which accelerates the development and commercialization of innovations created by SUNY students, faculty, and staff. The projects, which include advances in medical imaging, pharmaceutical, fine chemicals, petrochemical, and refining technologies, were awarded a total of $250,000, bringing the TAF to more than $1 million in support of innovation at SUNY.

“This fund is helping New York’s students and our world-class SUNY faculty pioneer the next generation of life-saving technologies,” Governor Cuomo said. “By investing in our researchers, we are ensuring that SUNY continues to lead the way with cutting-edge advancements in medicine. I congratulate the award recipients and look forward to seeing their work help change the face of modern medicine.”

“Research and discoveries like those funded today are improving our communities, our health, and our economy,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “Through the Technology Accelerator Fund, we are able to support promising research projects at their onset, giving SUNY scientists the seed funding they need to progress their work and ultimately see it through the commercialization process. Congratulations to the students and faculty receiving funding for their projects today.”

“SUNY’s TAF investments sustain critical world class research for future investment and development, and represent SUNY innovations that are perfectly positioned for high impact commercialization,” said RF President and SUNY Vice Chancellor for Research Dr. Tim Killeen. “These projects showcase the level and magnitude of research conducted every day on SUNY campuses across the state and highlight the potential for forming lasting partnerships under START-UP NY.”

SUNY is widely recognized for revolutionizing the medical imaging industry, beginning in the 1970s through Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) research conducted at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and Stony Brook University. Today, the industry generates an economic impact of approximately $100 billion annually.

Two of the new TAF investments continue SUNY’s MRI research:

University at Buffalo
Leslie Ying, PhD, associate professor of biomedical engineering at the University at Buffalo has created an algorithm that speeds the data processing and image reconstruction time for MRI scanning. This technology takes full advantage of the large data acquired by the scanners to improve the quality and diagnostic power of the resulting images.

Stony Brook University
Balaji Sitharaman, PhD, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Stony Brook University, is developing a new carbon nanostructure-based MRI contrast agent for renal imaging. The contrast agent is water soluble and provides better image results at substantially lower dosages.

The three additional projects receiving TAF investment today are:

SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering and SUNY Downstate Medical Center.
A screening platform for the evaluation of glaucoma drugs developed by Drs. Susan Sharfstein, Magnus Bergkvist, and Yubing Xie of the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, in collaboration with Dr. John Danias of SUNY Downstate Medical Center.

SUNY Upstate Medical University
Minimally-invasive Infusion and Suction Therapy (MIST), a novel medical device that removes harmful abdominal fluid buildup caused by trauma, sepsis, or burns developed by Gary Nieman, M.D., associate professor of surgery, SUNY Upstate Medical University.

University at Buffalo
Compounds that recover precious and expensive metals lost during the chemical processes are being developed by Steven T. Diver, PhD, professor of chemistry, University at Buffalo.

These technologies were selected for investment through a rigorous evaluation process, with input from external experts in various fields of science, technology, and business development. Factors considered for the awards include the availability of intellectual property protection, marketability, commercial potential, feasibility, and breadth of impact.

Since its launch in 2011, the TAF has invested more than $1 million to successfully advance the commercial readiness of 16 SUNY-developed innovations, and has catalyzed the investment of an additional $1.6 million from external partners, including federal agencies, industry licensees, and angel investors.

Prior TAF investments have produced license and manufacturing agreements as well as successful startup support. They include Shirley, New York’s Biodex Medical Systems’ commitment to license and manufacture a medical assist device that will impact thousands of lives, and the formation of HocusLocus, a startup company producing a technology that reports whether a particular RNA molecule is present inside a cell. For more information, visit:

About The Research Foundation for The State University of New York
The Research Foundation for SUNY (RF) is the largest, most comprehensive university-connected research foundation in the country. The RF manages SUNY’s research portfolio providing essential sponsored programs administration and innovation support services to SUNY faculty and students performing research in life sciences and medicine; engineering and nanotechnology; physical sciences and energy; social sciences, and computer and information sciences. The RF moves SUNY ideas and inventions to the marketplace collaborating with business and industry to create new opportunity and new jobs for New York State. To learn more about the RF visit

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2023, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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