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Pataki offers Roswell Park $18 million Funding would help finish research facility

Roswell Park Cancer Institute will get $18 million to finish work on a state-of-the-art research facility for the study of pharmacology, Gov. George E. Pataki proposed Tuesday in amendments to his 2006 state budget proposal.

"For us, it's huge," said Roswell Park President Dr. David C. Hohn.

The money would pay Roswell Park's costs of completing the top two floors of a new five-story research facility set to open on Virginia Street this spring.

The space, part of the Buffalo Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics, will be home to about 16 research scientists, who will each have four or five staff members.

The state and private donations provided $62 million to build the lower three floors dedicated to genetics research; that facility is set to open in the spring. But the additional $18 million proposed Tuesday is crucial to finishing the building, Hohn said.

The additional funding would allow Roswell Park to purchase new equipment and laboratory materials for the floors that contain about 50,000 square feet of space, said Jeffrey Lovell, a senior adviser to Pataki.

The money comes as Roswell Park is trying to recruit a new head of its pharmacology department. During the recruitment process, the issue of when the new research facility will open has been a topic of the top person Roswell Park is eyeing for the job, officials said.

"This is an extraordinary commitment and one that is urgently needed and extremely timely for us. It can easily make the difference on the success of the recruitment we're planning right now," Hohn said.

The facility, he said, will tap into its connections with nearby Hauptman Woodward Medical Research Institute, and use various new technologies to develop new drugs as part of its pharmacology work.

"It will allow us to put together teams in the most closely adjacent ways we can," Hohn said of the new research space.

The $18 million, as well as $25 million Pataki proposed last month for Roswell Park as part of his original 2006 state budget plan, still needs to be approved by the State Legislature.

The money was in amendments Pataki can legally submit within 30 days of his original budget presentation. The amendment package presented by Pataki Tuesday reconfigured estimates and spending and now projects his 2006 budget plan would total $110.7 billion, down $100 million from his earlier estimate last month.

The amendments also include authority for New York City to add 50 new charter schools; the governor last month proposed lifting the current statewide cap of 100 charter schools -- which already have been handed out -- to 250.

The governor also wants to create a new central agency to oversee all gambling-related activities now regulated by the state, including racing, lottery and Indian-run gambling.

The amendments also call for doubling to $5.7 million funding to audit local school district finances.


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