$15 million state grant supports Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in the fight against pancreatic cancer


Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has received a $15 million grant from New York State to support the construction of its Pancreatic Cancer Center of Excellence. The funding, announced by Governor Kathy Hochul on May 4, is part of Empire State Development’s investment in the lab’s $500 million expansion plan, further supporting the lab’s pioneering research efforts in combating one of the most lethal forms of cancer.

“We are making important investments to ensure New York is on the cutting edge of biomedical research, creating new jobs, and ensuring we remain competitive in the 21st-century economy,” Hochul wrote in a statement.

Pancreatic cancer, known for its low survival rate of less than 10 percent for patients diagnosed after metastasis, is a focus of lab’s research. The lab’s Cancer Center, led by Dr. David Tuveson, has made significant strides in understanding the disease’s mechanisms.

“Cold Spring Harbor is a nonprofit, independent research institution where we employ over 1,000 people,” Tuveson explained. “We have focused on pancreatic cancer for the last 12 to 15 years, aiming to discover new information useful for physicians treating patients.”

The grant will facilitate the development of the new center, where researchers will test novel therapies against pancreatic cancer. The goal is to identify promising treatments that can be patented and potentially developed by private sector partners. This collaborative effort is expected to generate economic growth by creating new jobs and attracting entrepreneurial scientists to the region.

“The construction of the center is well underway, and we expect it to be completed within the next year or so,” Tuveson said. “The research that’s going to go into the facility is reaching a crescendo right now. We have identified new aspects of pancreatic cancer that are causative and are developing medicines to stop these mechanisms.”

The lab’s collaborative efforts extend to neighboring medical facilities like Northwell Health, which has been a critical partner in providing samples and clinical collaboration.

“Northwell Health and Cold Spring Harbor have worked together for more than 10 years,” Tuveson noted. “We would like to have a center of excellence for patients with pancreatic cancer at Northwell Health, and I think once we get our Cold Spring Harbor center going it will be a pipeline into that.”

The $15 million grant is expected to create 25 new direct jobs at the facility and could lead to the creation of two to four new spin-off companies annually. This increased commercial activity could generate over 100 new high-value local scientific jobs, further stimulating economic growth in Long Island’s life sciences sector.

“Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s expansion of the Pancreatic Cancer Center of Excellence is a testament to the vital role that research institutions play in advancing our understanding and treatment of devastating diseases like pancreatic cancer,” Empire State Development President, CEO, and Commissioner Hope Knight wrote in a statement. “This investment underscores our dedication to fostering innovation and economic growth in Long Island’s life sciences sector.”

The support from New York state is also seen as a catalyst for further private investment in pancreatic cancer research.

“New York state’s commitment provides a catalyst to mobilize further private investment in pancreatic cancer research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory,” the lab’s Chair Marilyn Simons wrote in a statement. “Our scientists are working with Northwell Health and the Feinstein Institutes to help more people access the latest biomedical advances.”

Through strategic investments like the one announced for the lab, Hochul's administration is hoping to fuel advancements in biomedical research and development. This initiative aims to turn key regions into dynamic life science hubs, fostering organizations and institutions dedicated to research, development, technology transfer, and commercialization.

“Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has already made significant breakthroughs in pancreatic cancer research,” Bruce Stillman, the lab’s president and CEO, wrote in a statement. “Our new Pancreatic Cancer Center of Excellence will help validate these targets, enabling our commercial partners to develop innovative therapies and diagnostic strategies that ultimately improve patient outcomes.”

With the new center, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is poised to make substantial contributions to the fight against pancreatic cancer, offering hope to patients and driving economic growth through innovation and job creation in the life sciences sector.