New molecular pathology lab, hub for medical innovation opens in Syracuse

Oct 25, 2016

Upstate Medical University officials hope the build out of the Central New York Biotech Accelerator in Syracuse will help define the area as a haven for biotech research and development.

An anatmage table. A life-sized, touch screen display that allows physicians and students to perform a virtual autopsy, among other things.
Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A new molecular pathology lab and a hub for medical innovation opens this week, filling two empty floors that had been in the biotech accelerator building on Syracuse’s east side. The lab has the latest high tech equipment available, starting with something called an anatomage table. This kind of a life-sized iPad displays a digital image of a human. Physicians can tap the screen, zoom in and out, and get a three-dimensional picture of whatever they need. It will also allow for a virtual autopsy, according to Upstate  University Hospital’s Pathology Chair Robert Corona.

"So instead of cutting the body, the body is actually digitized with a cat scanner,” Corona says. “We’re going to display it here. So say for forensics, if there’s a bullet lodged in the spine, we have to dig through the body to find that bullet. We can just display it digitally on this.”

Medical students will also be able to use this technology, eliminating the need for cadavers in some cases.  The other part of the lab lets physicians take a step forward in precision medicine, through genetic testing. Knowing the genetic and molecular signature of a cancer patient allows for more personal therapies.

"So instead of some of the more shotgun approaches to therapy, let’s try this to see if it works, we’ll be able to predict it will work based on the knowledge based on the genetic signature and the drugs that work and don’t work,” Corona says.

The other half of the $5.4 million build out offers a hub that will nurture startups in the field of biotechnology, called the Medical Innovation and Novel Discovery center or Upstate MIND. 

Part of the Upstate MIND center, a precision medicine lab at the Central New York Biotech Accelerator in Syracuse.
Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

It starts with a TED Talk theater where innovators can pitch ideas through a development corridor that will ultimately try to turn ideas into businesses.  Corona hopes that it can ultimately create a new technological identity for central New York.

“We get a lot of people come here with ideas,” he says. “Some are crazy and some have a lot of merit. And we’re looking to really reinvigorate this area with biotechnology innovation."