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Stephen Small and Gloria Coruzzi, Biology Faculty, Advocate for NYU 2031

 

Testimony of Gloria Coruzzi,

Carroll & Milton Petrie Professor of Biology,

And Stephen Small, Chair and Professor of Biology,

New York University

Before the New York City Planning Commission

For the Public Hearing on the New York University Core Project

April 25, 2012

 

Chair Burden and Fellow Commissioners,

As former and present Chairs of NYU's Department of Biology, we are writing to provide information that supports the New York University Core Project. Our testimony and evidence provided underscores the benefits that our department's recent space expansion in the sciences has brought to NYU, and also importantly to New York City.

The Center for Genomics and Systems Biology: NYU's New Science Hub. NYU is defined by its innovative thinkers who push forward the frontiers of nearly every academic discipline. Nowhere is this more evident than at NYU's Center for Genomics and Systems Biology, a revolutionary, 62,000-square foot "hub of science" located at the very heart of the Washington Square campus. Beyond its original restored Greenwich Village fa~ade, are state-of-the-art open "loft laboratories" where teams of biologists and computer scientists interact to unleash the extraordinary potential of Systems Biology.

By combining high through-put robotics-enabled experimentation and computational analysis, scientists at the Center analyze whole genomes to decipher a new "systems" level view of the operating systems of microbes, plants, and animals. Current studies range from the identification of the gene networks that control the lives of normal bacteria and disease-causing microbes, to studies on gene-networks controlling nitrogen-use in plants. There are also major projects to understand how gene mutations can interfere with normal embryo development in animals, with applications to humans. The major impacts of these studies are in the fields of human health, human fertility, and the future of energy production.

This recent space expansion in the sciences at NYU has already had specific and quantifiable impacts on NYU and NYC, as detailed below:

Recruitment of 16 New Faculty: Expansion of science space at NYU to house the Center for Genomics and Systems Biology enabled NYU to successfully recruit 14 new genomic faculty at the leading edge of genomics research from institutions including Harvard, Stanford and Princeton (see Table 1 ). It is our opinion that the recently renovated space in the department, including the new Genome Center building, was a crucial attracting point in our negotiations with all these new hires. Notably, this expansion enabled us to successfully compete with MIT for one of our hires, and our most recent recruit was our top choice among 350 applicants in last year's world-wide search.

Dramatic Expansion of Grant Support: The success in faculty recruitment has resulted in dramatic growth in grant support for Genomics research at NYU from a total of $5M grant dollars in 2003, to $51 M grant dollars in 2011 (Table 2). This expansion of grant support is reflected not only in increased funding from federal agencies (NIH, NSF, DOE), but also in a breath of new support from the New York State Stem Cell Initiative, as well as from prestigious foundations including The Ellision Medical Foundation, The McDonnell Foundation, Human Frontiers and others (see Table 3).

Education: Increased Training of MS Technicians for the BioTech Industry: NYUs Genome Center expansion has also enabled us to expand our classroom space and course offerings in Genomics and Bioinformatics, a new and important aspect of the Biotech growth industry. NYU's Biology department offers an MS Degree that provides students with training for positions in the Biotech industry by giving them a solid background in molecular biotechnology, genomics and informatics. Students in the program are prepared to compete successfully on the job market and to meet the challenges of any biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical or academic laboratory. Enrollment in this MS program has increased dramatically from an average of 32-43 MS students (2005-2007) to 73-81 MS students (2009-2011).

Outreach to NYC: 2 NYC Intel Finalists: This year, the NYU Genome Center hosted two Intel Finalists and two Intel Semfinalists. Intel STS is the nation's most prestigious preĀ¬college science competition selecting only 40 finalists from 1,839 applicants nation-wide. The Intel finalists, Mimi Yen, who captured third place and was the first New York City student to place in the top three since 2005, and Angela Fan, are both pictured with President Obama (see linked photo). Please see the following web site for more information: http://www.nyu.edu/about/news-publications/news/2012/03/19/nyc-area-high-school-student-working-with-nyu-biologists-captures-third-place-at-intel-science-talent-search.html

In summary, we believe that NYU's Biology Department has benefitted enormously from the latest expansions in science space that have been undertaken by the University. These investments of space and other resources have enabled us to assemble an extraordinary group of star faculty, and to provide outstanding research and teaching opportunities for our students, which is the whole point of a university. Most importantly, these gains for NYU have been a win for NYC, as already evidenced by increased training of MS students for the BioTech Industry, and the placement of NYC High School students at the top of our nation in the Intel competition. Thus, growth and expansion in Arts and Science are gains not only for NYU, but importantly, for the City of New York.

 

Dr. Stephen Small, Professor & Chair of Biology

Dr. Gloria Coruzzi, Carroll & Milton Petrie Professor

 


 

Table 1: Biology Department & Genome Center Recruitment History (2003-Present)

Search YearFaculty NameInstitution
Research Area
2003-04
Patrick Eichenberger Harvard University Microbial Genomics
Ken Birnbaum NYU Bio/Courant Plant Genomics
Mark Siegal Stanford University Fly Genomics
Francesca Chaiomonte* (F) Penn State Bioinformatics
2004-05

Michael Purugganan
NC State
Plant Genomics
Richard Bonneau*
Inst. for Systems Bio
Bioinformatics
2005-06

Edo Kussell**
Rockefeller University
Bioinformatics
Kristin Gunsalus (F)
Cornell / NYU
Bioinformatics
2006-07
Matthew Rockman
Princeton Genome Center
Animal Genomics
2008-09

David Gresham
Princeton
Microbial Genomics
Lionel Christiaen
UC-Berkeley
Developmental Genetics

2009-10

Fei Li
UC-Berkeley Molec. Cellular Biology
Christine Vogel (F)
U of Texas
Bioinformatics
Sevinc Ercan (F)
U of North Carolina
Worm Genomics

2010-11
Jane Carlton (F)
NYU School of Med
Genomics
Andreas Hochwagen
Whitehead Institute
Yeast Genetics
       
  (F) = Female    

 

Table 2: Genome Center Grant Funding Increase (2003-2011)

Year
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
Number of CGSB Faculty
3
7
8
10
11
10
11
13
14
Number of CGSB Faculty Grants
2
7
11
16
17
17
29
34
43
CGSB Total Current Awards
4.9M
12.5M
14.6M
18.1M
23.1M
29.8M
36.0M
39.3M
51.6M

 

Table 3: Genome Center Program Support

Burroughs Wellcome Fund*
Department of Defense*
Department of Energy
Ellison Medical Foundation*
Guggenheim Foundation*
Human Frontier Science Program*
March of Dimes Foundation*
McDonnell Foundation*
National Science Foundation
National Institute of Health
New York State STEM Program*
Dorothy Schiff Foundation
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation*
Whitehead Foundation
Zegar Family Foundation*
* indicates NEW sources of support from CGSB faculty
NYU 2031

This is one of the numerous statements of support voiced by members of the New York City community in favor of NYU 2031, the development proposal which the City Council approved in 2012.

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