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Empire State Stem Cell Board awards $12.7 million to Albert Einstein College of Medicine

March 10, 2009 ─ (BRONX, NY) ─ For the third time in 14 months, the Empire State Stem Cell Board has awarded Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University funding for stem cell research. The new grants, totaling $12.7 million, will help create technologies for treating sickle cell anemia, cancer, heart and liver disease, as well as obesity and hepatitis.

In applauding President Obama's executive order restoring federal funding for stem cell research, Governor David Paterson announced $101.8 million in new State funding for stem cell research, reinforcing New York's continued investment and leading role in this rapidly evolving scientific field. The latest round of awards is in addition to $16.5 million in State funding previously announced. To date, New York State has invested a total of $118.3 million in funding for stem cell research.

"Support for stem cell research offers hope for better health to millions while providing an economic stimulus to the biomedical industry," the Governor said.

$6 Million Einstein Award

An award of $5.99 million was awarded to principal investigator Eric Bouhassira, Ph.D., Einstein's Ingeborg and Ira Leon Rennert Professor of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine.

The award will support the creation of the medical school's Comprehensive Pluripotent Stem Cell Center. The center will consist of three units:

The Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Unit that will produce patient specific stem cells; the Xenotransplantation Unit through which researchers will transplant human cells in small animal models, an essential component of experiments that have to be performed before therapies can be tested in humans; and the Stem Cell Genomic Unit that will allow Einstein's human stem cell researchers to study the genome of the patient-specific stem cells in unprecedented detail. This new center will vastly expand the facilities and technology available to Einstein researchers.

"These three units, together with our newly created Stem Cell Institute and Epigenomics Center, will place Einstein at the cutting edge of technology and at the forefront of the fast-evolving stem cell field," said Dr. Bouhassira. The Center's units will be directed by Dr. Bouhassira (Stem Cell Production), Drs. Sanjeev Gupta and Ulrich Steidl (Xenotransplantation), and Dr. John Greally (Genomics).

$6.7 Million Einstein Award

An award of $6.72 million will support nine separate research projects, including studies of basic stem cell biology and of potential therapies for obesity, leukemia, hepatitis, and age-related diseases.

Principal Investigators and their research projects include:

  • Ulrich Steidl, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of cell biology and the Diane and Arthur B. Belfer Faculty Scholar in Cancer Research $1,201,499
    Identifying epigenomic determinants of hematopoietic stem cell commitment.

  • Jayanta Roy-Chowdhury, M.B., B.S., professor of medicine; genetics $1,080,000
    Amelioration of hepatic metabolic defects by stem cell-derived human hepatocytes.

  • Jeffrey E. Pessin, Ph.D., the Judy R. & Alfred A. Rosenberg Professsor of Diabetes Research; director of the Diabetes Research and Training Center $1,080,000
    Identification of adipocyte progenitor cells during adipose tissue turnover and obesity.

  • Carl Schildkraut, Ph.D., professor of cell biology $1,080,000
    Differential regulation of DNA replication during neural lineage specification in human embryonic stem cells and human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells.

  • Charles E. Rogler, Ph.D., professor of medicine; microbiology & immunology $1,069,157
    Roles of microRNAs in hepatic stem cell differentiation; transcriptional control of cancer stem cells in acute myeloid leukemia.

  • Eric Bouhassira, Ph.D., the Ingeborg and Ira Leon Rennert Professor of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine $971,489
    Characterization of iPS using a novel high throughput replication timing assay.

  • Mukesh Kumar, Ph.D., instructor in medicine $240,000
    Manipulation of stem cells for treating viral hepatitis.

"We are very pleased to receive these grants from the Empire State Stem Cell Board. They further position Einstein as part of collaborative efforts across New York State to broaden the understanding of stem cells," said Allen M. Spiegel, M.D., The Marilyn and Stanley M. Katz Dean. "The funding further enhances our capabilities to gain knowledge that can lead to breakthroughs in medical science that will have important implications for people suffering from many devastating diseases." Dean Spiegel also noted his appreciation for Governor Paterson's leadership in this area and for his strong advocacy of stem cell research.

To date, Einstein has received nearly $14 million from the Empire State Stem Cell Board. In January 2008, in its initial round of funding, the board awarded Einstein and Montefiore Medical Center, The University Hospital and Academic Medical Center of Einstein, combined first-phase grants of more than $1 million. In September 2008, the two institutions received additional grants of $238,000. That funding supports activities at Einstein's Gottesman Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Research Medicine as well as research at Montefiore. The two institutions are working as partners to develop novel stem cell therapies for patients.


Contact: Deirdre Branley
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

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