Two high-ranking government officials from a sprawling Chinese province are continuing their tour of Buffalo as local business and community leaders seek to forge closer economic ties among China, New York state and Buffalo.
The administrators from Chongqing, which at 34 million people is slightly smaller than California, are getting an upclose look at life-sciences and advanced manufacturing projects in Buffalo on Tuesday, one day after visiting a genetics research facility in Manhattan that is linked to a supercomputer on the downtown medical corridor here. The small group broke off from the delegation that came to the United States as part of this week’s official state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The officials who traveled to New York are Yang Liqiong, deputy director general of Chongqing’s economic and information commission, and Dr. Li Xiaoping, director of Chongqing’s Food and Drug Administration.
They came at the invitation of executives from Athenex, formerly Kinex, the biotech startup based on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. Athenex recently acquired a Chinese manufacturer of ingredients used in cancer drugs that is based in Chongqing, and the company is in discussions to build a major drug manufacturing plant in the province in southwest-central China.
A number of Athenex officials visited Chongqing in late July, said Teresa Bair, Athenex’s senior vice president for corporate development and legal affairs, where Yang and Li were generous hosts to the Athenex team. “These are friends,” said Bair, who helped to organize the Chinese visit to New York.
On Monday, after arriving in Buffalo, the group had dinner at the Buffalo Club with Mayor Byron W. Brown and Howard Zemsky, president and CEO of Empire State Development.
Tuesday morning, the group started their tour of the medical campus at the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute, followed by a visit to the University at Buffalo New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, where Norma Nowak, the center’s executive director, showed Yang and Li its potential to power advances in personalized cancer treatments.
Athenex researchers have worked in the bioinformatics center and with its supercomputer for years. “It’s a great story,” said Nowak. Yang then warmly invited Nowak to Chongqing to see for herself the promise for life-sciences breakthroughs in that region.
The group later trekked to Roswell Park Cancer Institute to see the floor where patients who are participating in clinical trials for drug candidates are brought in, before leaving for City Hall and then a bus tour of the SolarCity solar-panel factory now under construction in South Buffalo. They are having lunch in Larkinville.