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Governor Recognizes Stem Cell Research At Einstein

October 9, 2009

In roundtable meeting, parties discuss Einstein’s recent stem cell advancements

Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University hosted a roundtable discussion on stem cell research with New York Governor David A. Paterson Oct. 8. Allen M. Spiegel, M.D., the Marilyn and Stanley M. Katz Dean of Einstein, and eight stem cell researchers discussed advances in medical therapies and treatments that Einstein scientists have been investigating since receiving more than $14 million in State funding for stem cell research.

“I applaud the efforts of Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the more than two dozen research institutions across the State who are at the cutting-edge of stem cell technology ““ one of the great new frontiers of 21st century science,” Governor Paterson said. “I have no doubt that this important work will one day lead to the successful treatment of dozens of devastating afflictions that have escaped the grasp of modern medicine to date.”

“It is an honor for Einstein to be recognized by Governor Paterson for our pioneering work with stem cells,” said Dr. Spiegel. “With Einstein’s strong commitment to leverage this technology, our scientists are on the leading edge of medical research, tackling some of the world’s most challenging diseases like liver failure, cancer, and heart disease. We also applaud the vision and commitment of the Governor for supporting stem cell programs.”

Stem cell research aims to improve human health and alleviate disease by restoring cells, tissues and organs lost to disease or injury. Unlike mature cells, which are permanently committed to their fate, stem cells can both renew themselves as well as create new cells of whatever tissue to which they belong.

“Funds from the State are a critical lifeline for our innovative and high-risk, high-reward research programs,” said Sanjeev Gupta, M.D., M.B.B.S., the Eleazar & Feige Reicher Chair in Translational Medicine at Einstein. “For example, our stem cell work focusing on the liver is aimed at finding cures for challenging diseases, like hepatitis, or drug reactions that may cause liver failure. Similarly, as the liver is the body’s factory for producing proteins, many genetic conditions, including high blood cholesterol and hemophilia, may be best treated by replacing healthy liver cells. Stem cell research is a promising means to address these growing problems.”

To date, Einstein has received more than $14 million in funding from the Empire State Stem Cell Board. In March 2009, Einstein received grants totaling $5.75 million for researching potential therapies for treating sickle cell anemia, cancer, heart and liver disease, obesity, leukemia, hepatitis, and age-related diseases. Also in March 2009, Einstein received a nearly $6 million grant for research into creating patient-specific stem cells and for testing new therapies on lab animals ““ an essential component before these treatments can be tested in humans. Additionally, Einstein has received $2.3 million in grants to develop the overall capacity for stem cell research, planning, and to stimulate and support investigations to develop improved methods for deriving pluripotent stem cell lines and defining reprogramming mechanisms. Montefiore Medical Center, The University Hospital and Academic Medical Center for Einstein, received $270,000 in grants for planning and core equipment for a cellular therapeutics facility.

“Investment in stem cell research is part of my vision to make New York a global leader in the New Economy, which is based on knowledge, innovation and technology,” added the Governor. “The research we are undertaking right now will not only pay dividends for future generations but it will also provide jobs for New Yorkers still struggling in the midst of the economic crisis.”

Governor Paterson has spearheaded the effort to commit $600 million over the next decade to advance stem cell science in New York State. Since the beginning of 2008, the State has allocated more than $165 million from the Empire State Stem Cell Board to support promising stem cell scientists through the development of new research, training, collaboration, and infrastructure.

The Stem Cell Board total includes two authorizations that the Governor recently announced. Final applications were due last month for $21.5 million in State funding for research to understand stem cell biology better and for improved efficiency in using existing stem cell lines. In December 2009, a $20.5 million Request for Proposal (RFP) aimed at recruiting and retaining exceptionally talented postdoctoral fellows and operating specialized stem cell research facilities will close.

“Providing New Yorkers with economic security is my number one priority,” Governor Paterson said. “That means investing in long-term projects like stem cell research, biotechnology and clean energy. But it also means pouring the concrete for the lab where a scientist will discover the cure for diabetes and repaving the roads that will carry its beams and girders.”

Einstein stem cell researchers who attended the roundtable discussion were:

Carl L. Schildkraut, Ph.D., Professor of Cell Biology (Basic Stem Cell Biology)

Ulrich Steidl, M.D., Ph.D., Diane and Arthur B. Belfer Faculty Scholar in Cancer Research (Cancer Stem Cells)

Charles E. Rogler, Ph.D., Professor of Medicine (Hepatology) and of Microbiology & Immunology (Liver Stem Cells)

Sanjeev Gupta, M.D., M.B.B.S., Eleazar & Feige Reicher Chair in Translational Medicine (Liver Stem Cells)

Mukesh Kumar, Ph.D., Instructor of Medicine (Hepatology) (Liver Stem Cells)

Jayanta Roy-Chowdhury, M.B.B.S., MRCP, Professor of Medicine and of Genetics; Scientific Director, Gene Therapy Facility (Liver Stem Cells)

Jeffrey E. Pessin, Ph.D., Judy R. & Alfred A. Rosenberg Professorial Chair in Diabetes Research; Director, Diabetes Research Center (Fat Stem Cells)

Eric E. Bouhassira, Ph.D., Ingeborg and Ira Leon Rennert Professor of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine (Blood Stem Cells).

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