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NYIT gets $150,000 state grant to create bioengineering lab

The new bioengineering lab will be located in

The new bioengineering lab will be located in Harry Schure Hall on the NYIT campus in Old Westbury. Credit: Marisol Diaz-Gordon

New York Institute of Technology will use a $150,000 state grant for a bioengineering laboratory in Old Westbury as part of a larger expansion of biotechnology initiatives on Long Island, officials said.

The NYIT project, at the college’s engineering school, involves research using tiny biosensors and biomaterials to heal tissue and to detect fatal diseases such as cancer.

The money will be used for equipment purchases and renovations to Harry Schure Hall, home to the engineering school.

Azhar Ilyas, professor of electrical and computer engineering, said combining engineering with biology on a small scale “can offer tremendous opportunities for solving important problems in health sciences and medicine.”

The funding for the NYIT laboratory comes from Empire State Development, the state’s primary business-aid agency.

Last month, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced the state would support three medical facilities proposed for the Island with a total of $72 million. Those facilities include a bioelectronic medicine center at Northwell Health’s Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset and a new veterinary medicine college at LIU Post in Brookville.

Life sciences, including biotech, has been identified by economic developers and politicians as the sector offering the most potential for creating jobs with high salaries in Nassau and Suffolk counties. The industry employs about 12,300 people, with annual salaries, on average, of $55,218, according to a recent Long Island Index research report.

The state and NYIT signed an agreement for the grant on Wednesday, an ESD spokeswoman said, adding the college has committed to creating at least four permanent jobs.

The NYIT lab was endorsed by the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, a group of business executives, university presidents and leaders of charities that helps state agencies determine where funding will go in the region. The council has identified life sciences and biotech as a critical industry for the region’s future.

In recent years, NYIT received more than $1 million from the state to open a business incubator and cybersecurity lab and expand training in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.

Howard Zemsky, chief executive of ESD, said the NYIT funding was part of a bigger effort by the state to help Long Island emerge “as a hub for life sciences research and advancements in biotechnology.”

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