Monday, August 13, 2012

NYU to Open Wireless Research Center in Dumbo

The Polytechnic Institute of New York University will open a research center for wireless technologies in a further bid to bolster a technology hub in downtown Brooklyn. When NYU Wireless opens, researchers will focus on developing the next-generation cellular technology. Doctors at NYU Langone Medical Center, meanwhile, are expecting the research to contribute to game-changing advances in medicine as well.

About 23,000 square feet of research space is scheduled to open at the downtown Brooklyn campus this winter. The center—called NYU Wireless—will combine research in wireless technologies, computing and medical applications.

"NYU Poly has always had some good researchers in wireless," said Theodore Rappaport, founder and director of the research center. "What we're doing now is ramping it to critical mass and creating a new research environment."

The center, launched in partnership with NYU and National Instruments Corp. of Austin, Texas, represents the next step in NYU's efforts to cement its presence in the area. In April, NYU and the city announced a deal to create an applied-sciences institute at the former transit authority headquarters at 370 Jay St. Columbia University and Cornell University also are expanding their engineering programs in the city.

It also will help bolster the number of companies in what the city has called a technology triangle, stretching from Downtown Brooklyn to the Brooklyn Navy Yard to Dumbo, said Alexandria Sica, executive director at the Dumbo Improvement District. The area is currently home to more than 500 companies in roughly 1.7 million square feet of space, according to a survey commissioned by local economic development groups.

"The clustering of this sector is really important," Ms. Sica said. She added that the center "will really spark a whole new field of entrepreneurs."

More than 100 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers as well as 25 engineering, computer-science and medical professors are already doing research on campus. Projects range from cellular networks to medical imaging.

"Wireless is starting to enter its Renaissance," said Mr. Rappaport, who started academic wireless centers at University of Texas and Virginia Tech.

NYU Langone Medical Center Goes Wireless

When NYU Wireless opens in Brooklyn's Dumbo neighborhood this winter, researchers will focus on developing the next-generation cellular technology. Doctors at NYU Langone Medical Center, meanwhile, are expecting the research to contribute to game-changing advances in medicine as well.

The 23,000-square-foot facility will be staffed by NYU Langone physicians, in addition to engineers, computer scientists, faculty and students from the university, the NYU School of Medicine and NYU Polytechnic Institute. The institutions last week announced they had received $10 million in public and industry funding.

"We have great minds sitting around the table trying to decide what to tackle first," said Dr. Marc Bloom, director of perioperative technology at NYU Langone.

Among the medical research projects: devising faster, less-invasive imaging to study organs such as the brain or heart. Advances could include new MRI scans that take only a few seconds and capture a beating heart in real time. That technology would let doctors performing a procedure such as cardiac ablation see if they correctly zapped the heart muscle cells to stop an irregular heartbeat. Brain surgeons could see if they had removed enough of a tumor.

"We'll get better, cleaner pictures inside the body in less time," Dr. Bloom said. Another project involves being able to insert tiny monitoring devices in patients that will be able to tell doctors how well a joint replacement is holding up, whether an epilepsy patient is about to have a seizure, or whether a cardiac patient is in danger of having a heart attack.

"With this technology, we will be able to check a body system, measure whether our intervention is functioning, and see if there is any improvement in the patient's health," Dr. Bloom said.

Outside the body, the same technology that NYU Wireless is developing for better cellular networks will be used to improve communications inside the hospitals.

The institute's work will be funded by a $2 million National Science Foundation grant. NYU is investing $3 million in startup money and another $4 million to build out the space.