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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute wins $2.45 million grant to support stem cell research

Troy, N.Y. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and principal investigator Glenn Monastersky have been awarded a four-year $2.45 million grant from the New York Stem Cell Science Program (NYSTEM) of the Empire State Stem Cell Board.

Monastersky, director of operations at the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS), said the grant will be used to create an upstate center of excellence for basic stem cell research within the CBIS.

"The funds awarded today by New York state will be used to build out sophisticated laboratories with high-throughput culture and imaging equipment in the CBIS, dedicated to the very specialized needs of stem cell researchers," Monastersky said.

Rensselaer is already active in stem cell research. A number of Rensselaer faculty members, including NYSTEM-funded researchers Robert Linhardt and Deanna Thompson, maintain stem cell research programs within the CBIS. But Monastersky said the new grant will greatly enhance the program.

A key goal of the grant is to encourage upstate researchers to take advantage of the availability of the Rensselaer stem cell facility. Monastersky said that Rensselaer will be working with several key players in the field.

"The idea was to create an upstate center of excellence so we can maximize the research that's going on in New York state," Monastersky said. "These facilities and the associated scientific staff will enhance collaborations with several New York state partners, including the New York Neural Stem Cell Institute, Albany Medical College, and the Ordway Institute."

Scientific colleagues from the University at Albany-SUNY, the University of Rochester Medical School, Northeast Health System, and the Trudeau Institute also will participate in guiding the research efforts with Monastersky.

"Our goal is to become an important location for stem cell research in New York state," Monastersky said.

Stem cell therapies hold promise for treatments of human diseases and traumatic injuries because they can be grown into specialized cells like nerve, muscle, and bone, and could therefore be used to regenerate missing or damaged cells.

Rensselaer plans to work with existing stem cell lines, Monastersky said.

Monastersky said the focus of the research in the CBIS will be the basic science critical to development of stem-cell based therapies for human diseases and traumatic injuries. Growing the cells and controlling their "differentiation" guiding their development into the specialized cell types of the human body are key scientific challenges.

"All of these totipotent cells from the very early embryo are identical, and have the potential to develop into any of the mature cell types of the body," Monastersky said. "To use them, we need to know how to guide the development of cultured embryonic stem cells into these specialized cell types e.g., nerve, muscle, and bone cells."

Space within the existing collection of Research Cores in the CBIS will be created as a dedicated resource for stem cell research, for Rensselaer investigators, and for stem cell researchers from other institutions, particularly across New York state.

"We are excited that this funding will enhance our ongoing efforts to recruit world-class faculty for our faculty Constellation in Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, which is located in the CBIS," Monastersky said.


Contact: Mary Martialay
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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