Dr. Yacov Shamash is the dean of Stony Brook's Engineering...

Dr. Yacov Shamash is the dean of Stony Brook's Engineering and Applied Sciences program. Credit: Barry Sloan

Stony Brook University has landed $20 million in funding from Empire State Development to create a new Center for Advanced Technology in Integrated Electric Energy Systems and to finance its existing Center for Biotechnology for another 10 years, the university announced Tuesday.

The new center will get $10 million to study how to improve the electrical grid.

Yacov Shamash, vice president for economic development and dean of engineering, said a key challenge will involve integrating numerous renewable energy sources such as wind turbines and solar panels into an electrical grid designed to transmit power from a small number of power plants.

The emerging "smart grid" will get power from renewable sources that may be stored in batteries until needed, he said. Shamash said that sensors will feed data into software managing the grid of the future, which will require protection from outside cyber threats.

The Center for Biotechnology, which will also receive its $10 million over 10 years, had to compete against other New York State schools bidding for the renewed funding.

Both centers for advanced technology will be funded through NYSTAR, Empire State Development's division of science, technology and innovation. Stony Brook also has a third center focused on sensor technology. The CAT program was created in 1983 to push technology out of research universities and into commercial products.

Stony Brook's biotechnology CAT is focused primarily on taking to market advances from Stony Brook, Brookhaven National Laboratory and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, said Clinton Rubin, chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the center's director. Rubin said the center's challenge is to take a research culture whose currency is academic papers and move the science it produces toward the "investment community."

Among the commercial products that the biotechnology CAT steered to market: ReoPro, a drug to treat cardiovascular disease, and the 3-D virtual colonoscopy, a less invasive option that requires no sedation and uses scanning technology to screen for intestinal polyps.

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