New York Genome Center: Pioneering Multi-Institutional Research in the NYC Community

Marissa Schafer, Editor

If live you in the New York area and your ears perk up in conversations about biomedical innovation, you may have heard the recent buzz about a new genomics consortium in our backyard.  It’s called the New York Genome Center, and although it is, technically, a center—30,000 square feet of space in Soho, housing 7 floors of laboratory, computing, data storage, and office space—it has the potential to be so much more.

In the sciences, competition is fierce—between academia and industry, between academic institutes, and even between separate labs within an institute.  Although competition drives us to work smarter and faster, it also limits us.  Individual labs or institutes may not have the necessary resources, facilities, personnel, or know-how to efficiently probe the questions they would like to on the scale that is most meaningful.  This is especially true in one of the newest, fastest-moving, and potentially most powerful realms of biomedical sciences—genomics.  Enter the New York Genome Center.

The mission of this consortium is to “connect and serve academic, research, and medical institutions, as well as pharmaceutical, biotech, and IT companies” with the ultimate goal of “leading a new era of genomic medicine…translating promising research into new ways to treat, prevent, or manage serious disease.”  The key words here are ‘connect and serve’.

Let’s start with serve.  Experts at this facility can help you design, conduct, analyze, and interpret genomic, transcriptomic, or epigenomic experiments at a scale that may not be otherwise feasible.  The Genome Center is focusing on large- and medium-size projects that are beyond the scope of genomics facilities housed in individual universities or require collaboration from outside institutions, which leads us to connect.

Most academic institutes in the New York area that conduct serious biomedical science are institutional founding members of the center, including Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Columbia University, New York University, Weill Cornell Medical College, among many others.  Researchers within these institutes often compete with each other.  But by holding membership and participating in this consortium, the New York Genome Center will serve as a “state-of-the-art hub” where scientists liaise to approach genomics research through a uniquely flexible, cooperative interface.  Here, they can address scientific questions with high-throughput methods that may not be available at their home institutes or in collaboration with researchers who may have served as competitors in the past.

Serving as a headquarters for genomics collaboration within the New York scientific community, as well as a physical location to conduct cutting-edge research, the New York Genome Center has the potential to reshape how we conduct science, in the genomics world and beyond.

Marissa Schafer is a PhD candidate in the department of Cellular and Molecular Biology at the NYU School of Medicine.  Contact her at: Marissa.Schafer@nyumc.org.

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