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University, Biotech, Life Technologies Partner on Gene Tests

DNA Strands (


University at Buffalo in New York, the biotechnology company Empire Genomics, and genetics systems developer Life Technologies are establishing facilities at the university to conduct genomic sequencing for research and diagnostics to support personalized medicine. Financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed.

Under the deal, Life Technologies is providing equipment from its Ion line of semiconductor sequencing systems that translate the chemical information in DNA strands to a digital format for further analysis and processing. The sequence of the chemical information in DNA determines similarities and differences among human organisms. The facilities, which are expected to meet Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments standards for medical testing labs, will be housed at the university’s medical campus in downton Buffalo.

The university’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences will use the new sequencing facilities with Empire Genomics to conduct research leading to development of more precise diagnostics based on a person’s individual genome, and eventually treatments customized for that individual. The Center of Excellence connects life scientists at the university and two affiliated research centers — Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute — to financial and industrial resources for business and economic development. The Center of Excellence also supports translational research with commercial potential.

Empire Genomics is a spin-off company from Roswell Park Cancer Institute that develops genomics tools for research, diagnostics, and drug discovery.  Norma Jean Nowak, the founder and chief scientist of Empire Genomics, is also science director at the Center of Excellence, and director of the Microarray and Genomics Facility, a collaborative research lab shared by Roswell Park Cancer Institute and University at Buffalo.

Earlier this year Roswell Park Cancer Institute purchased six Ion sequencers from Life Technologies for the institute’s Center for Personalized Medicine. In April, Life Technologies was acquired by Thermo Fisher Scientific, a manufacturer of laboratory equipment and systems for $13.6 billion.

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