The Commonwealth Medical College - unique in many ways

The Commonwealth Medical College Introduces Groundbreaking Research Innovations to Northeast Pennsylvania

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Media Contact:  Anne Green,
Manager of Marketing Communications
Office:  (570) 504-9687
Cell:  (570) 909-6220
[email protected] 

Scranton, PA. The Commonwealth Medical College (TCMC) is leading the way in the development of research programs that focus on the healthcare needs of Northeast Pennsylvania. TCMC’s nationally recognized researchers have recently contributed major achievements in medical research on the basic science level that will impact the delivery of healthcare in the future. Notable achievements including a patent pending for breakthrough medical research; the awarding of the College’s first National Institute of Health (NIH) grant; and, a new high-tech research laboratory raise the bar for innovation and discovery in the advancement of clinical outcomes that will benefit residents of Northeast Pennsylvania for years to come.

 “At TCMC, we’re making major strides in research. Our scientists are developing new treatments and therapies to improve the quality of life and to prevent illness and disease,” stated Robert  D’Alessandri, MD, President and Founding Dean of TCMC. To date, TCMC has submitted over 70 research applications to the NIH and other research agencies and has received a total of 3.7 million in state and federal grant funding. In addition, TCMC has invested $4 million in a high-tech research laboratory including the only state-of-the-art robotic and imaging research technology in the region. “This investment in resources and technology demonstrates our commitment to a patient-centered, evidence based model of education and research with the expertise of a nationally recognized research faculty,” added Dr. D’Alessandri.
In just 18 months, TCMC has recruited over 30 scientists and basic science faculty from notable institutions across the county to live in Northeast Pennsylvania and contribute to advancing scientific research in the fields of cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, women’s health, Alzheimer’s disease, HIV and diseases of the elderly. “Our goal was to assemble from the ground up, the right mix of scientists who are working on specific healthcare issues of the region on a basic science level,” states Gerald Litwack, PhD, Chair of the Basic Sciences Department. “These scientific innovations and achievements will lead to better treatments and improve the clinical outcomes of patients in the community,” he continued.

Leading the way in scientific discovery is TCMC’s breakthrough medical patent pending for a new method of diagnosing Interstitial Cystitis (IC), a chronic painful inflammatory condition that occurs along the wall of the bladder. This painful syndrome and affects one in 500 people (mainly young and middle-aged women) and current tests are properly diagnosing less than 75% of cases.  Sonia L. Planey, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry in the Basic Sciences Department at The Commonwealth Medical College is the principal investigator (PI) of the research group that has developed a test that can detect a small biomolecule in urine that is uniquely associated with Interstitial Cystitis (IC). This biomarker can be detected in as little as 30 minutes with no invasive procedures at a much lower cost to patients.  A provisional patent is pending at the United States Patent and Trade Organization (USTPO) for their findings: Cell-Based Detection of APF for Diagnosis of Interstitial Cystitis.  If approved, this test will provide a new, safe and cost-efficient way for physicians to diagnose and treat this painful condition.

Another recent research achievement by The Commonwealth Medical College is the awarding of its first National Institute of Health (NIH) grant just six months after the College received Preliminary Accreditation. John Arnott, PhD, Assistant Professor of Cell Biology in the Basic Sciences Department of The Commonwealth Medical College is the principal investigator (PI) of the research study to identify new therapeutic targets to enhance bone formation in patients with osteoporosis. The grant will be used to advance the development of this research study that will find ways to activate bone formation and lead to new treatments and therapies for osteoporosis, a major health care problem in approximately 10 million people over the age of 50.  In the future, the method will hopefully reduce and simplify recovery time for patients with breaks or fractures. 

“The work by these researchers translates to the ability of The Commonwealth Medical College to recruit and train future physicians and scientists in the discovery of solutions to the region’s healthcare problems,” stated Daniel Flynn, PhD, Associate Dean of Research and Professor of Cell Biology.  “Through an active research program, we will further our goal to serve the region using a patient-centered, evidence based model of education that promotes discovery and utilizes innovative techniques that can be applied directly to improve the delivery of healthcare and impact the economic development in the region,” he added.

In March 2009, The Commonwealth Medical College’s new research laboratory opened on the College’s Lackawanna campus equipped with the region’s only state-of-the-art research technology. The Formulatrix microfluidic robotic technology for protein crystallization makes the scientific process three times faster than traditional means by enabling researches to use larger samples and increased samples with more variable conditions. What took researchers a day to accomplish now takes a total of 10 minutes. TCMC’s research lab also houses the region’s only high performance confocal laser microscope with 3-D imaging technology. This technology enables researchers to more accurately and efficiently study images of cells and molecular events in greater detail and at higher speed. These technological advances improve research methods and timelines that lead to more innovation and discovery of future treatments and therapies. Researchers as well as TCMC’s incoming charter class will utilize this state-of-the-art technology at Lackawanna College until the lab eventually relocates to its permanent location at TCMC’s new Medical Sciences Building in 2011 on Pine Street in Scranton. In addition to this space, TCMC researchers are also based at the Institute of Molecular Biology at the University of Scranton. 

The Commonwealth Medical College is a new medical college opening in August 2009 and expects to accept sixty medical students and thirty Masters of Biomedical Sciences (MBS) students. The College has campuses in Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and Williamsport and currently has over 113 full time employees and over 557 clinical faculty members. For the academic years of 2009 and 2010, students will use temporary facilities on the Lackawanna College campus. The Commonwealth Medical College is dedicated to training the next generation of physicians in a community-based model. Focusing on selecting students with a propensity for community service, the school’s unique structure is designed to provide these students with diverse clinical experiences from the very first day of their education. For information please go to

The Commonwealth Medical College is an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE).

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