Penn State Behrend in Erie, Pennsylvania, has announced that it will serve as the academic research and commercialization partner for a new Magee-Womens Research Institute in Erie, a $26 million initiative aimed at bringing locally focused clinical trials to the region.
Funded by a $6 million grant from the Erie Community Foundation (ECF) and at least $5 million each from Penn State Behrend, the Magee-Womens Research Institute and Foundation, the Hamot Health Foundation, and UPMC, MWRI Erie will co-locate faculty members and students at the institute's downtown facility, which will be affiliated with UPMC Hamot, and a new biomedical commercialization and translational research lab on the Penn State Behrend campus.
With the funding, faculty members and MWRI Erie researchers will work to develop and commercialize diagnostic tests, surgical devices, and start-up ventures that advance the institute's clinical trials. The lab also will provide space for bench experiments, including human genetic studies, data analytics, and medical-device prototyping. In addition, the college will use $1.1 million of the ECF grant to update biology labs and fund construction of the research and commercialization lab, to be located in the college's Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Center, and will develop new academic programs in biomedical engineering, biochemistry, and molecular biology.
The largest research institute in the United States devoted exclusively to the health of women and infants, Pittsburgh-based MWRI selected Erie as its first expansion site in part because of the large number of families who stay in the region from generation to generation. That data pool will enable researchers to study how genetics drive certain cancers, including ovarian and breast, that occur at elevated rates in Erie County. The institute expects MWRI Erie to attract up to $50 million in new research funding over the next decade from the National Institutes of Health, foundations, and pharmaceutical and medical device companies.
"This initiative has the potential to transform Erie, directly improving the health of generations of women who live here," said Penn State Behrend chancellor Ralph Ford. "It also will stimulate the region's economy, creating a new hub for clinical and collaborative medical research, and for the start-up companies and products that build on the results of those medical studies.
(Photo credit: Magee-Womens Research Institute)