On hand for the announcement of Niagara University’s new lab in the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus were (front, l-r) Rev. Craig Pridgen, NU trustee; Dr. Mary McCourt, NU professor of chemistry; and Pamela Jacobs Vogt, NU trustee. (Back, l-r) Dr. Timothy Ireland, provost & vice president of Academic Affairs; Dr. Debra Colley, executive vice president; Dr. Lawrence Mielnicki, research and teaching laboratory manager at NU; Kathleen Neville, NU trustee; NU senior David Cordone; Congressman Brian Higgins; Patrick Kilcullen, CFO, Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc.; Rev. James Maher, C.M., NU president.

Niagara University will open a science research lab on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus this summer, thanks to $750,000 in funding secured through the office of Congressman Brian Higgins. The bio-medical lab will include a focus on STEM research, and it will allow Niagara University students to conduct high-level research in the facility, as well as interact and collaborate with professionals in the healthcare field. The lab is located at 73 High Street.

“There is incredible research being conducted by our undergraduate students in the B. Thomas Golisano Center for Integrated Sciences on the university campus,” said the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of Niagara University. “Opening this lab will not only complement the on-campus research, it will elevate our excellence in the field of science, and will provide our students to do this work within Buffalo’s medical campus, collaborating with university partners and leaders in healthcare from our region, which begins to develop their career pathway into a career in the sciences.”

The funding for the research lab was secured through a federal 2023 budget request, which was supported by Congressman Brian Higgins and Senator Chuck Schumer. “We are very grateful to Congressman Higgins and his staff for their work on the research lab, and Senator Schumer for his support of the project,” said Tom Burns, Niagara’s associate vice president for public and government relations. “This funding is important for our students, but it also furthers the development of research that may play a role in the treatment of common health issues in our community.”

“This is a great opportunity to expand hands-on learning in a setting that allows for synergy between Niagara University and Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus neighbors,” said Congressman Brian Higgins. “This federal funding is an investment in students and in the development of trailblazing scientific solutions to real-world challenges.”

Niagara’s research lab will be managed by Dr. Mary McCourt, a professor of chemistry at Niagara University. A member of the faculty of NU’s Department of Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Physics since 1999, Dr. McCourt’s critical expert areas include computational chemistry and molecular modeling, cancer-targeted drug design, and structural biology with emphasis on lipids. Her main areas of research are the development of CholestosomeTM technology and urine-based biomarker analysis for diagnostic screens focused on breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

“Undergraduate research experience is a high impact practice that enhances the overall experience for our students,” said Dr. McCourt. “Direct experiences in a science research setting, prepares our science majors for graduate school, medical school, health professions, business, industry, and emerging fields related to pollution control, and ecology.”

Dr. McCourt holds 14 patents for the CholestosomeTM technology, which was developed at Niagara University and is moving toward commercialization. She was presented with the 2020 Jacob F. Schoellkopf Medal. The medal is awarded as part of the Western New York section of the American Chemical Society, and was presented to Dr. McCourt “in recognition of her pioneering contributions to the development of drug delivery methods for the treatment of breast cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease and for her outstanding dedication to teaching and mentoring.

Your Thoughts