Upstate News

April 10, 2008
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

State budget provides SUNY Upstate with $280M in bonding and capital project support

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — SUNY Upstate Medical University is on target to accelerate its vision of regional growth through research, clinical care and education, thanks to more than $280 million earmarked in the 2008-2009 state budget for key SUNY Upstate initiatives.

“This may be the biggest investment in upstate New York since the Erie Canal,” said David R. Smith, M.D., president of SUNY Upstate Medical University. “We’re grateful to our state delegation, SUNY officials and all our supporters who made clear the merits of funding research, patient care and educational programming.

“The beneficiary of this investment is not SUNY Upstate, but the communities across the state that we stand ready to serve,” Smith said.

The funded initiatives embrace the university’s responsive regional growth agenda and set in place the foundation to grow and develop programs that address key issues across the region, such as the shortage of physicians and other health professionals and access to services, while enhancing the regional economy and creating new job growth through research.

A key project approved by lawmakers is the $72 million expansion of the university’s Institute for Human Performance. The building is at capacity as is the university’s other key research facility, Weiskotten Hall.

The ability to offer state-of-the art research space is paramount to attracting top-tier researchers to the university. Additional lab space is also needed to attract top-level biomedical graduate students. The need for the state to step up its support for research was a key element in the findings by the state Commission on Higher Education that were released last fall, noting that the state had lost almost a billion dollars in research expenditures since 1980.

“The state has recognized that New York needs to reinvigorate its research support, and we’re grateful for that,” Smith said. “This is a sound investment.” SUNY Upstate currently conducts about $38.7 million in funded research.

In addition to the IHP expansion, funded projects include:

? $150 million in bonding authorization to support the modernization of University Hospital patient rooms, build a cancer center and a heart center. With the East Tower (vertical expansion) set to open early next year and new private patient rooms in service, University Hospital will begin work on modernizing existing patient rooms throughout the hospital. The development and construction of a heart center and cancer center will provide patients with multidisciplinary care in a setting featuring enhanced patient amenities.

? $36 million for new academic building. In the past three years, SUNY Upstate has launched six new education programs and is planning for three more degree programs to start by 2009. A year ago, the university launched a recruitment effort for nearly 50 new faculty to increase the ratio for basic science instruction and is committed to the national call to grow our colleges by 30 percent to meet the region’s health care needs. The building is essential for meeting the university’s current and future educational goals.

? $12.45 million for phase one of renovations for the Binghamton Castle. This historic building is the future home of the SUNY Upstate’s Binghamton campus, including the training of 80 third- and fourth-year medical students and as a site for the university’s forthcoming physician assistant degree program.

? $10 million for cord blood center. SUNY Upstate would be a key player, along with the state Health Department and other organizations, in leading work on a research center investigating the potential for life-saving treatments through umbilical cord blood. This center’s mission aligns with the university’s research strengths in cancer and immunology.

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