November 1, 2002

McQuade Wins State-Funded Award

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During a period in which jobs can be hard to come by, New York is committed to creating more jobs and businesses within the state. This commitment recently took the form of an early career award, giving $200,000 to Prof. D. Tyler McQuade, chemistry and chemical biology, for his research endeavors.

The award comes from the New York State Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research (NYSTAR), and recognizes McQuade’s work toward creating synthetic, protein-like materials that could possibly repair broken cells.

“The fruits of my group’s labor will hopefully produce, for example, sensors for detection of chemical warfare agents and in vivo [non-natural] catalysts for use as selective, low-dose drugs,” said McQuade of his research.

Some of the award will be used to purchase a RNA/DNA/PNA synthesizer, a machine that is vital to the research and will allow those working on the project to do their own synthesizing, rather than having to hire other services to do the work for them.

Of the $2 million total distributed, NYSTAR awarded only 10 such awards to scientists across the state whose research is in the field of life sciences or biomedical sciences and has the possibility of leading to new products and jobs for New York.

NYSTAR distributed the awards as part of the James D. Watson Investigator Initiative, which is part of a greater organization called the Generating Employment through New York State Science (Gen*NY*sis) program.

Gen*NY*sis was developed in 2000 after a Senate majority supported legislation to institute a multi-year program of over $500 million to encourage technical opportunities at the state’s leading institutions. Signed by Governor George E. Pataki, and labeled “Jobs 2000 for New York State Act,” the legislation will increase the commercialization of laboratory work towards the goal of creating new jobs and businesses in New York, especially upstate. The money goes toward research projects and businesses whose work is already underway.

The awards “will encourage these early career biotechnology scientists to stay and conduct their critically important research here in New York state. In doing so, these scientists will be positioned to make the important advancements in biotechnology that will lead to the state’s future economic growth,” said Russell W. Bessette, the executive director of NYSTAR, in a recent press release.

McQuade is “taking excellence as a standard,” said Steven Broadwater, grad. He has been working with McQuade on his research since he first joined the faculty. “His attitude and the way he presents himself encourage you to work harder.”

“Professor McQuade is very focused,” said Jeremy Paige ’04, a undergraduate working on the project with McQuade and Broadwater. “He’s not doing something abstract, but … very practical. All of his projects coalesce on one major idea.”

Similarly, Ross Brunner ’04, also participating in the research, said of McQuade and the award, “He has a lot of really good ideas. We’re really excited about it.”

McQuade is excited about the effect the money will have on his research.

“This money is great,” he said. “I feel a sense of responsibility to make sure my research is practical.”

He hopes his research will lead to marketable products and eventually jobs for New York residents, making him a perfect candidate for NYSTAR’s award. Additionally, he stressed the importance of the recognition that comes with the award, so that New York residents can be aware of how the state is using their tax money.

“People are taking a look at what’s going on in the sciences at Cornell. In my opinion, Cornell is one of the best places in the country, if not the world, for chemical research.”

While New York is certainly home to significant research in a variety of fields, it is not at the forefront of biomedical research and biotechnology development, according to Gen*NY*sis. This results in less funding from federal institutions whose money goes to more prominent states. The investment in biotechnology research of the federal government, Michigan, Texas, and Georgia, are all examples of what New York aspires to achieve for the state. Fifty percent of the funding is being focused on upstate New York.

This is the third major award for McQuade in his year as a member of the faculty at Cornell. Previous awards include a Non-tenured Faculty Award from 3M Co. in April 2001 and a New Faculty Award from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation in the fall of 2000.

Archived article by Stephanie Baritz