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March 25, 2017
State funding allows for Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory renovations
New lab will expedite cancer trials for patients
By Laura Lane

Dr. Nicholas Tonks, the deputy director of the Cancer Center at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, has been doing important scientific work for over 25 years. But because the lab does not have a modern facility, CSHL has had to take Tonks’s findings and send them to chemists off-site for further development. But that will soon change.

New York state’s budget, which passed on April 1, includes $331 million for research and development projects at eight locations on Long Island, including Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, which received $25 million. Plans that have been in the development stage for the past six years can now move forward to create a Center for Therapeutics Research at CSHL.

In order to do so, the Demerec building, a 26,000-square-foot laboratory, will require renovations that include the expansion of the back of the building, retrofitting to make the building accessible for the work of chemists and the purchase of equipment.

An additional $50 million will be required to complete the project, but CSHL officials are confident they will obtain these funds from philanthropic and other non-state sources.

“This is a transformative project,” said the lab’s vice president for development, Charles Prizzi. “For the lab’s future, it will add a new and interesting element to the work we are doing now. It will help us produce the next generation of treatment for cancer, autism and other diseases.”

Tonks, a biochemist, has been making progress on a class of enzymes that he’s been attempting to regulate for the purpose of fighting diseases like Rett syndrome, breast cancer, and obesity and diabetes.

Even though four Nobel Prize winners once worked at the Demerec laboratory, technological advances have made research at the antiquated building, erected in the 1950s, difficult, even slowing down scientists like Tonks.

Renovations will make it possible for scientists with different expertise to work together at CSHL, which excites Tonks. “Chemists are used to thinking of drug development,” he said. “We would collaborate.”

State Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset) was instrumental in the effort to obtain funding for CSHL from Albany, as was Senate Majority Leader John J. Flanagan (R-East Northport).

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Biochemist Dr. Nicholas Tonks working on cancer research with a nameless anonymous postdoctoral fellow at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

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