New York Genome Center opens $54M biomedical-research hub

The New York Genome Center (NYGC) has always had big ambitions, but over its three-year history it has lacked a physical presence to match its aspirations. That changed this week, when it officially opened a $54 million, 16,000-square-meter biomedical-research hub in lower Manhattan.

NYGC has filled the building with wet labs, sequencing and data-handling cores, and bioinformatics workspaces it believes will help transform medical research in the city. While other sites can boast similar capabilities, NYGC also has the backing of a laundry list of leading academic institutions. Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York University and 9 other institutions came together to found NYGC in 2011, and since then others have signed up, too.

The New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) is the latest organization to come on board. While these partners give NYGC an enviable brain trust, it recognizes it needs industry input too. "The real synergy is to take sequence information and put it together informatically and computationally, and actually bridge the gap by interacting with pharma, saying how do these mutations interact with what's on the pharma shelf. That's really doable now. It's not going to be perfect, but we can get started," NYGC President and Scientific Director Robert Darnell told Nature.

Running such projects will help Darnell advance his ambition for NYGC to drive treatment based on genomic discovery. Such projects--and the building in which they take place--cost money, though. The building project benefited from donations, and Darnell expects philanthropy to remain an important source of income. NYGC, a non-profit, will also bring in cash from grants and by providing sequencing services.

Sequencing is a competitive market, but Darnell believes NYGC can carve out a niche. Its partners give it a ready-made, local client base, and collaborators have already spoken favorably of the rates. "As one of the founding members of NYGC, we can take advantage of several of the initiatives that they have started, such as discounts on Illumina ($ILMN) pricing, which is very nice," New York University genomics director Jane Carlton told GenomeWeb earlier this month.

- read the Nature post
- here's the NYSCF release
- check out the GenomeWeb interview (sub. req.)