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Upstate MIND is focused on innovation

Innovation is key to staying competitive in the ever-changing field of health care and Upstate Medical University has developed a focused innovation center—Upstate MIND– that will transform innovative ideas into useful, tangible ways to improve the human condition and the delivery of health care.

Robert Corona, DO, MBA, is leading Upstate MIND (Medical Innovation and Novel Discovery), in the newly created position of vice president for Innovation and Business Development. Corona, who will continue to serve as professor and chair of Upstate’s Pathology Department, is an experienced neuropathologist and a leader in bioinformatics and the application of technology in medicine. In his new position, he will report to Rosemary Rochford, PhD, vice president for Research at Upstate.

Corona says that Upstate MIND is open to anyone who has a good idea and who is looking for collaboration with those who have complementary skill sets. “All ideas are on the table as long as they add value to the practice of medicine,” said Corona. “We are looking for new and creative ways to improve health care practices, whether it is through the discovery of new therapies, devices, or products; to make the patient experience more satisfying; or to improve patient access. If the idea is of value, we will support the innovator in every way possible to bring their idea to the bedside or to market.”

Corona is using targeted strategies to ensure the success of Upstate MIND.

One of the strategies is to house Upstate MIND at the Biotechnology Accelerator Center (BAC). “The BAC provides a stimulating environment where innovation is part of the culture,” said Corona.  “At the BAC, our innovators will ‘collide and cloister’ with trailblazers in the fields of science, medicine, engineering, business, product development and licensing. It is here where they will have their questions answered. The BAC also provides us space for those entrepreneurs who are ready to nurture an idea or a new company.”

Corona is also working with the private sector for partnership opportunities in the area of research and development, patenting and licensing. On board is the New York State Science & Technology Law Center at Syracuse University’s College of Law and the Herman Miller Healthcare in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Sponsored research in digital imaging is already in progress with General Electric/Omnyx.  Corona is currently in talks with Foundation Medicine, a molecular diagnostics company in Boston; Welch Allyn and Thermo Fisher Scientific, among other prospective partners.

“The initial emphasis of Upstate MIND is to develop expertise in next-generation gene sequencing with the goal of collaborating with oncologists for personalized oncology treatments involving patients at our Upstate Cancer Center,” Corona said “and we hope to expand to other disease states.”

To assist in the process, Upstate MIND will house a molecular diagnostics reference laboratory as molecular diagnostics and bioinformatics will play leading roles in the development of new therapies. In layman’s terms, he says, “molecular diagnostics involves analyzing the building blocks of tumors as an example… or ‘picking out pieces of the puzzle’ in a tumor.” The bioinformatics “puts the puzzle together.” “The future of medicine is likely going to be driven by the analysis of genetic blueprints of disease, their protein products and personalizing therapies as a result of the analysis,” he says.

Lastly, Corona wants Upstate MIND to pave the way to create what he calls lifelong fearless learners. “We can accomplish this by designing novel education pathways and models for teaching and training future physicians and scientists to become innovators and pioneers in the field of health care,” he said.

To discuss your innovative idea or to discuss business partnership opportunities, contact Corona at coronar@upstate.edu or Kathy Pazaras at 315-464-9288.

Caption: Robert Corona, DO, MBA, will serve as vice president for Innovation and Business Development, responsible for leading Upstate MIND.

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