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UAlbany launches construction of new RNA lab

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Albany/HV: UAlbany launches construction of new RNA lab
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UAlbany is building a new lab that's expected to help researchers make advancements in modern medicine and help the school attract top talent. Lori Chung has more.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- This build-out in the Life Sciences building on UAlbany's campus is soon to become hotbed of forward thinking research. The school is ramping up its efforts to enter a new frontier in biomedical study.

"RNA represents ribo-nucleic acids, which is the product of DNA," said RNA Institute Director Paul Agris. "RNA is in every organism, it's central in all biology."

The new facility at the RNA Institute, which includes a new computational center, is a $9.4 million project to build the technology to help scientists better study how ribo-nucleic acids work, how they respond to drugs, how they can be used to develop life-saving vaccines.

"They will be able to use this information to tackle problems in cancer, neuro-degenerative diseases," said Agris.

"We now know enough about how cells work that we can get computer programs to simulate the activities of cells," said Associate Professor Mindy Larsen. "We can thereby simulate the tissue properties and do virtual experiments."

The 15,000 square-foot lab is expected to bring 60 jobs to the regions, with advanced technological tools to attract top talent.

"In terms of both the students that come and also attracting corporate partners, that we have the ability to do both the wet lab experiments and the virtual experiments with the computing facility here," said Larsen.

And even though we're not talking microchips, the lab here will also help to cement the region's reputation as a technology hub. The project attraction $2 million from Governor Cuomo's Regional Council Initiative to help bring jobs to the state.

"With each additional investment in our high-tech sector here in the Capital Region, we're becoming a very diverse regional innovation economy that will have a global impact," said F. Michael Tucker, President of the Center for Economic Growth.

That investment expected to begin paying off next June when the facility is up and running.

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