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Empire Discovery Institute

A B O U T     EDI

Lena Gray, P.T. &

Baby Development Expert

EDI is organized as a 501(c)(3) corporation and designed to help overcome key challenges typically faced by life science researchers in academia – lack of external funding to continue research efforts and lack of pharmaceutical industry expertise to advance their programs to fruition.  Its mission is to identify medically important pathways and targets related to human disease that will serve as the basis for the discovery and development of novel, highly differentiated new therapeutics.  The creation of EDI is due in part out of an initial grant of $35.4M and a key component of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s $620M NYS Life Science Initiative.

Dr. Martin Graham, the organization’s founding Chief Executive Officer, convened an expert panel of Scientific Advisory Board members.  These members are all experienced pharmaceutical industry veterans with expertise in drug discovery & design, medicinal chemistry, drug formulation, pharmacology, toxicology, FDA regulatory strategy, clinical development, business development, biotechnology company entrepreneurship and drug product commercialization.  Our aim is to identify medically important pathways and targets related to human disease that will serve as the basis for the discovery and development of novel, highly differentiated new therapeutics. 

In addition to developing strategic relationships with pharmaceutical partners and venture capital firms, EDI seeks to attract philanthropic sources of funding to facilitate the discovery, development and access of innovative new medicines for rare and orphan diseases in adults and children.

EDI refocuses time and funding on discovery candidates that are most likely to succeed. By doing this, EDI can more efficiently translate pivotal research into life-saving medicines. Programs that demonstrate the most promise will either be licensed to one of EDI's strategic partners or become new life science companies within upstate New York'.

N O T E W O R T H Y    F A C T S

University at Buffalo

University at Buffalo

Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo was the first SUNY institution invited to join the Association of American Universities, an association of elite research universities in the U.S. and Canada.


University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York.


University at Buffalo spends $402 million annually on research, seeking knowledge that leads to new cures, improved processes, stronger materials, faster computers, smarter software, smaller machines and thousands of other improvements. 

More than 255,000 UB alumni are making a difference in every state and 150 countries around the world.  Among UB’s celebrated graduates are NASA’s lead astronaut for medical issues; a former president of the American Medical Association; the former minister of education in the People’s Republic of China; the CEOs of J. Crew and A&E Television Network; and the Washington Post’s Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist.

Univerity of Rochester

University of Rochester

University of Rochester was founded in 1850 and is one of the country’s top-tier research universities with strengths in neuroscience, musculoskeletal and immunology research. 


The School of Medicine and Dentistry was founded in 1925 as one of the first to integrate basic science and clinical practice, which is still a focus of the institution. 


The University of Rochester Medical Center is an integrated academic health center that comprises The School of Medicine and Dentistry, including its faculty practice (University of Rochester Medical Faculty Group); Strong Memorial Hospital; Highland Hospital; GolisanoChildren's Hospital; James P. Wilmot Cancer Center.

The Medical Center has an overall budget of almost $2 billion with its research faculty attracting external funding totaling approximately $300 million and achieving top-15 rankings in NIH funding in biochemistry, microbiology and immunology, neurology, obstetrics and gynecology, oral biology, and musculoskeletal research.


Since 1996, 53 companies have been created using University-licensed technologies, of which 38 are still active with 29 located in New York State, including iCardiac Technologies, Vaccinex, Lucid, Inc., and QED Technologies. Some notable University technologies include our work in vaccines (Prevnar, Gardasil, Ceravix) and its advancements in LASIK surgery have improved the vision of tens of thousands of people.


Past UR alums include 9 Nobel Prize winners, 12 Pulitzer Prize winners.  Among our celebrated graduates are the Founder, President & CEO of Xerox Corporation; President of the NCAA; Nobel Laureate and Former Secretary of the U.S. Dept. of Energy; U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education; Former President & CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston; Former CEO and Chairman of Goodyear; Former Chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Former U.S. Surgeon General and the First Woman President of MIT.

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Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center

Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is a community united by the drive to eliminate cancer’s grip on humanity by unlocking its secrets through personalized approaches and unleashing the healing power of hope. It has fueled more than a century’s worth of medical discoveries and breakthroughs while serving as a model for cancer research centers around the world.  From diagnosis through survivorship, its patients are surrounded by a multidisciplinary team of experts—doctors and nurses, physical therapists, nutritionists, psychologists and social workers—all working together to help them live long, healthy and happy lives.


Founded by Dr. Roswell Park in 1898, the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center was the first institution in the world to focus

exclusively on cancer research and is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in upstate New York.

A sampling of notable historical firsts from Roswell Park include:


In 1903, a Roswell Park Chemists/Physicists pioneered new methods of chemotherapy research and has

been recognized for demonstrating the potential of chemotherapy as an effective cancer treatment.

In 1950, a Roswell Park physician published a paper in The Journal of the American Medical Association

that was among the first reports to elevate public awareness about the concerning health links between

smoking and lung cancer.  Also during the 1950s, the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center led a

clinical trial which incorporated combination chemotherapy, a radical departure of standard treatment

for acute leukemia—and led to a body of research demonstrating that “incurable” diseases like acute

lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) can indeed be cured.

In 1999, Roswell Park led the world’s first clinical trial combining the monoclonal antibody rituximab (Rituxan) with a chemotherapy combination called CHOP—this treatment remains the standard of care

for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

In 2003, two Roswell Park scientists played critical roles in a worldwide effort to sequence the human genome which ushered in a new era of personalized cancer treatment. 


In 2017, the world’s first clinical trial using a two-gene combination for adoptive T-cell engineering therapy was initiated.

O U R    H O M E

Rochester NY

Rochester, NY

Buffalo, NY

74 miles

New York City, NY

333 miles

Boston, MA

392 miles

Chicago, IL

601 miles

Buffalo NY

Buffalo, NY

74 miles

Rochester, NY

New York City, NY

372 miles

Boston, MA

458 miles

Chicago, IL

532 miles

New York State's Life Science Initiative

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Supported through an initial grant of $35.4M as part of Governor Andrew Cuomo's $620M NYS Life Science Initiative and & with an additional $12M in direct investment and in-kind support that will be secured over the next 5 years, EDI will identify, select and invest in scientifically, medically and commercially attractive drug discovery programs and technology platforms from the scientific innovation originating from EDI’s three founding institutions.


The Empire Discovery Institute is a key component of the NYS life sciences initiative. In the FY 2018 budget, New York State enacted a $620 million initiative to spur the growth of a world-class life science research cluster in New York, as well as expand the state's ability to commercialize this research and grow the economy.


This multi-faceted initiative includes $100 million to expand the Excelsior Jobs Program Tax Credit to the life sciences industry, $100 million for a life sciences research and development refundable tax credit program, and $320 million in other forms of investment.  This includes state capital grants to support the development of wet-lab and innovation space, operating support and investment capital for early stage life science companies that leverages an additional match of at least $100 million from the private sector.  By strengthening incentives, investing in the facilities, and improving access to talent and expertise, New York will significantly increase its share of industry-funded research and development, support the commercialization of existing academic research, and usher in the next generation of advanced technologies.

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