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Massive development at medical campus is detailed at forum

The developers and caretakers of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus provided an update Wednesday on one of the region's burgeoning assets.

Officials explored the future promise of the massive development during a forum in the Hohn Auditorium at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. The event attracted about 300 supporters of the campus and various community leaders.

"The campus has been the recipient of enough publicity for us to believe that most of you are generally aware of the significant activity and development taking place on the campus," said William L. Joyce, chairman of the campus' board of directors.

"But we are also fairly sure that most of our community has very little knowledge about the full scope and impact of that activity and development.

"Over the past six years, I've become increasingly enthused about the successes and the potentials of the [campus]," Joyce added.

The medical campus is a consortium of medical, educational and research institutions, all located on 120 acres bounded by Michigan Avenue, Goodell, Main and North streets. It abuts two residential neighborhoods, the Fruit Belt to the east and Allentown to the west.

Between 2003 and 2009, Joyce said, there has been $300 million in new construction on the campus, and $500 million in construction is currently ongoing at the site, including a structure that will house the Kaleida Global Heart and Vascular Institute, the University at Buffalo Translational Research Center and the Jacobs Institute.

"[It is,] we believe, the first such circumstance in the world to co-locate, and therefore effectively integrate, such clinical research development activities," said Joyce. "Physicians and researchers from across the country and, indeed, internationally, are fascinated by this innovative approach."

Meanwhile, he said, 25 new start-up companies currently occupy the revamped former Trico Building, now known as the Innovation Center. Medical campus officials also announced Wednesday that the building will be renamed in honor of Thomas R. Beecher, who presided over the board from 2002 to 2007.

Joyce credited Beecher with forging "an effective consortium of institutional interest in the campus."

"He did it with patience and balance, with determination and persuasiveness," Joyce said. "So we'd like the world to know just how special he has been to this campus by naming the very successful Innovations Center after him."

Among the start-up companies attracted to the new building is Cleveland BioLabs Inc., a company recruited by Roswell Park Cancer Institute through the Cleveland Clinic, which has a well-publicized drug in testing with enormous potential for improving radiation tolerance and as an anti-carcinogen on colon, lung and melanoma cancers.

"Roswell [Park], itself, has become world leader of robotic oncology surgery," said Joyce. "If you need that surgery, [Roswell Park] is the best place in the world to get it done."

It's also the premier facility in the world for teaching robotic surgery, he said. Meanwhile, Upstate New York Transplant Services has spearheaded the development of a community blood bank controlled, sourced and used here in Buffalo that will save local hospitals $1.5 billion this year over alternative sources, Joyce said.

"It's the perfect metaphor, our own blood as an asset we manage and capitalize on ourselves," he added.

Also addressing the forum were Mayor Byron W. Brown, who lauded the medical campus' "Four Neighborhoods, One Community" initiative, and Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo. Matthew Enstice, executive director and president of the campus, offered a virtual tour of the campus and detailed plans to install an 1,800-space parking garage with charging stations for electric and hybrid cars.


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