UMass Amherst and Baystate Health System Expand Biomedical Affiliation in Research and Technology

AMHERST, Mass. - Baystate Health System and the University of Massachusetts Amherst have signed a comprehensive agreement that will expand their affiliation in the area of biomedical research and technology and other disciplines related to the health care sciences. The new initiative builds on the success of the Collaborative Biomedical Research Program between Baystate Medical Center and UMass, which was established in 1996 and supported by the City of Springfield.

As part of the expanded affiliation, the legislature, through the efforts of Sen. Linda Melconian, D-Springfield, included $250,000 in the budget for fiscal year 1999 to assist Baystate and the University in promoting the development of biomedical technology in western Massachusetts. Senator Melconian explained that the budgeted funds will be used to develop a biomedical institute which would house an enterprise center for start-ups and small companies and smaller units of larger corporations; research laboratories; training facilities; and administrative offices.

Michael J. Daly, president of Baystate Health System, said the expanded affiliation will also yield important benefits in the area of improved health care services for people in the region. Daly said, "We enthusiastically embrace this expanded relationship with the University of Massachusetts because it will enhance Baystate’s standing as an academic medical center by giving our institution more direct access to University disciplines and programs, and it will allow the continued development of Baystate’s research programs."

UMass Chancellor David K. Scott said that the expanded collaboration with Baystate Health System underscores the University’s commitment to outreach and economic development. "Working together to nurture a biotechnology industry in the Valley offers UMass an exceptional opportunity to honor its heritage as a land-grant institution, pursuing applicable knowledge of value to the community and to society, and creating partnerships and linkages with other forefront organizations on a common vision of the future."

Frank Cannon, director of the biotechnology program at UMass, said collaborative research is a key factor in increasing opportunities for University researchers, from faculty members to undergraduates. "Our work with Baystate adds the extremely important and meaningful dimensions of human health and clinical research to the biotechnology work conducted in campus laboratories." A large group of UMass faculty members have interests in a variety of physiological systems, including the nervous, endocrine, immune, muscular, mammary, and reproductive systems. The UMass group is complemented by Baystate faculty who lead strong clinical programs in cardiology, neurology, nephrology, hematology/oncology, reproductive medicine, genetics, transplantation, and pathology.

Paul Friedmann, M.D., senior vice president for academic affairs at Baystate Health System, said the affiliation also would present advantages for joint educational opportunities in several areas. Dr. Friedmann said, "In September, the University of Massachusetts Isenberg School of Management began offering graduate-level management courses for Baystate personnel to provide a basic background in financial and organizational management related to health care."

Dr. Friedmann added that initiatives are being contemplated with other areas such as the School of Nursing and the School of Public Health and Health Sciences as well as medical research programs.

Mayor Michael Albano said, "The financial support from the commonwealth will go a long way in positioning Springfield to take advantage of the numerous economic opportunities in biotechnology and life sciences." Albano added, "More importantly, it will facilitate research that will directly benefit the health of citizens in our community."