AMSNY Calls on State to Fund Economic Development Program

NYFIRST Program Helps Medical Schools Attract and Retain Top Scientific Talent, Returns $3.72 for Every $1 Invested, and Creates High Paying Jobs

(New York, NY) – The Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY), the consortium of the academic medical centers in New York, is calling on the state to allocate $25 million in the budget to continue the successful New York Fund For Innovation in Research and Scientific Talent (NYFIRST) program, which supports medical schools in recruiting and retaining the nation’s top scientific talent. NYFIRST has helped the state’s medical schools bring in more than $86 million in new funding to the state and created 186 new jobs all for just the first $15M state investment allocated in 2018.

“NYFIRST has proven to be an important tool in keeping New York State globally competitive in biomedical research and has had a large ROI, bringing in millions of dollars in research funding and creating high paying research jobs throughout the state,” said Jonathan Teyan, CEO of AMSNY. “NYFIRST is about to run out of funding and without new investment from the State, we will not only lose a powerful economic development tool, but we will also lose out on top scientific talent that will be recruited to other states.” Every dollar invested by New York State in NYFIRST resulted in an additional $3.72 in economic activity. The average salary of all jobs created by NYFIRST is $74,058.

NYFIRST provides a maximum grant of $1 million to eligible medical school applicants to modernize, renovate and upgrade laboratory facilities to attract world-class scientists to medical schools in New York State. The state’s $1M investment is matched by the medical schools 2:1. The program was launched in response to an increasingly competitive national environment. States like Massachusetts, California, and Texas have invested billions to recruit the most talented researchers, making it harder for New York institutions to compete in recruiting talent.

Researchers who have been recruited to New York thanks to the NYFIRST program include:

University of Rochester

Dr. Paula Vertino, who is also professor of Biomedical Genetics and Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and is recognized for her work on the role of epigenetics in cancer development, was originally recruited from Emory University.   Dr. Vertino’s research focuses on epigenetics and how alterations in gene expression promote cancer progression. Her work also seeks to understand how such alterations arise and can be reprogrammed as a therapeutic strategy.

Steven Silverstein, PhD as the George Engel Professor of Psychosocial Medicine, Associate Chair for Research in Psychiatry and Director of the newly established Rochester Center for Brain and Retina. Dr. Silverstein was recruited from Rutgers University in New Jersey. Rochester anticipates that the research led by Dr. Silverstein will increase the number of copyright and trademark registrations and patentable discoveries by approximately five each year. Dr. Silverstein brought two junior faculty with him to the University of Rochester, and it is anticipated that approximately 41 new jobs will be created as a direct result of the recruitment.

SUNY Upstate Medical University

Pharmacology Professor and Associate Professor of Surgery Dr. Juntao Luo is working to prevent and control sepsis and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) among soldiers suffering from battlefield injuries. That work was recently recognized by U.S. Army Medical Research, which awarded him a five-year $3.2 million grant. Dr. Luo has been awarded seven patents since joining UMU and has filed for a total of 15 patents in the last 10 years.

Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Dr. Jordan Orange, the Robert S. Carpentier Professor of Pediatrics and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics, was recruited from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He applies advanced imaging techniques to understand the biology of genetic immunodeficiencies. He has brought in over $6M in NIH funding to the state, built a lab and hired a team of researchers. He has also filed for a patent for his research.

Simon John, PhD, the Robert L. Burch III Professor of Ophthalmic Sciences at the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, studies glaucoma, which affects an estimated 75 million people. His first clinical trial, conducted last year at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, showed that vision loss due to glaucoma could be restored. Dr. John and his team of 12 are now conducting a clinical trial involving nearly 200 people.


The Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY) is the consortium of the medical schools  in New York State. AMSNY’s mission is to be the voice of medical education in New York State, advancing biomedical research, diversity in medical school and the physician workforce, and high quality, cost-efficient patient care. The combined total of New York’s medical schools economic impact equals more than $85.6 billion. This means $1 in every $13 in the New York economy is related to AMSNY medical schools and their primary hospital affiliates. For more information on AMSNY, please visit: