NY FIRST Program

New York Fund for Innovation in Research and Scientific Talent

The NY FIRST medical school grant program provides capital funding to encourage recruitment and retention of exceptional life science researchers focused on translational research by supporting the establishment or upgrading of the researchers’ laboratories.  Read the full press release

“As New York rapidly emerges as a world-class hub for life sciences research and commercialization, it is vital that we continue to attract world-class talent to lead the way. NY FIRST will help ensure that New York’s medical institutions remain state-of-the-art, competitive spaces where top-notch researchers can do this groundbreaking work.”
– Howard Zemsky
President, CEO, & Commissioner of Empire State Development


NY FIRST Guidelines           FAQs           Application



Biomedical research, and the bioscience sector generally, is a critically important component of New York’s economy. In 2017, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) made 5,056 awards totaling nearly $2.4 billion to research institutions in New York State. Studies suggest that every public dollar invested in research at medical schools and teaching hospitals yields more than $2.50 in additional economic activity.

The public savings resulting from advances in diagnosing and treating disease are significant. Recent projections suggest that by 2050, 11 to 16 million Americans will suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. The cumulative costs of caring for people with Alzheimer’s from 2010 to 2050 is estimated to exceed $20 trillion in today’s dollars. New treatments for neurodegenerative disorders – some being pioneered at New York’s premier research institutions – have the potential not only to help contain health care spending, but alleviate the disease burden on patients and their families.

Public Investment Gap

Until recently, New York has not kept pace with major public investments in California (with its $3 billion stem cell program), Texas (with a $3 billion cancer initiative), and Massachusetts (with a $1.5 billion life sciences initiative). These investments have positioned those regions and others to recruit scientific talent, attract and retain life sciences companies and spur significant private investment.

Major public life sciences investments have the potential to significantly improve New York’s competitive position. Importantly, New York needs robust investment across the full continuum, from basic science research to clinical and translational research and commercialization.

The recruitment and retention of scientific talent has become increasingly competitive, particularly as NIH funding has stagnated and other regions have launched large-scale public initiatives. Since 2011, 13 highly accomplished scientists (among them a global leader in immunotherapy) have been recruited from New York to Texas alone; others have accepted offers from Massachusetts, Florida and Nevada.

Economic Development

NY FIRST is a $45 million initiative (including a 2:1 match by the medical schools) to support the development of bioscience research laboratories throughout the state. Each laboratory functionally operates as a small business within the medical schools’ infrastructures, employing 8-10 highly skilled researchers and staff. State funds will provide capital support to the laboratories of star researchers – world-class scientific talent with proven records of scientific accomplishment and a demonstrated history of entrepreneurship and obtaining grant and other external funding. The funds will be used to renovate laboratories, develop core facilities, and purchase the equipment and supplies that are needed to develop and maintain a growing, thriving laboratory.

Find out more on ESD.NY.gov