State Health Commissioner Announces $2 Million in Stem Cell Research Planning Grants

Funding Will Strengthen New York's Biomedical Industry

NEW YORK (Sept. 19, 2008) – State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., today announced the awarding of $2 million in grants to strengthen New York's capacity for stem cell research.

The grants were approved today at a meeting of the Funding Committee of the Empire State Stem Cell Board at the state health department's New York City office. They are the second set of grants awarded under New York's multi-year stem cell research program. In January, $15 million in grants were awarded to 25 research institutions.

The 2007-2008 state budget created the Empire State Stem Cell Trust Fund, providing up to $600 million over 11 years for stem cell research, an allocation second only to California's.

"This important investment in stem cell research is strengthening the state's position as a leader in biomedical research and biotechnology, while supporting the development of possible new therapies to alleviate and treat debilitating diseases and conditions, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's ALS, paralysis, and diabetes," said Commissioner Daines, who chairs the Empire State Stem Cell Board.

"These new grants will spur collaborations among New York State stem cell scientists and their academic and industry partners, with the goal of creating a robust research infrastructure that will accelerate progress in this promising field," said Lawrence S. Sturman, M.D., Ph.D., director of the state health department's Wadsworth Center laboratory, which administers New York's stem cell program.

Stem cell research is considered the foundation of regenerative medicine, which aims to improve human health and alleviate disease by restoring cells, tissues, and organs lost to disease or injury.

For decades, doctors have harnessed stem cells found in bone marrow or umbilical cord blood as a powerful treatment for diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma, and sickle cell anemia. Likewise, stems cells taken from healthy skin are routinely used to regenerate new skin grafts for burn patients.

Scientists in New York and around the world are working to unlock the secrets of stem cell biology and find reliable ways to turn both embryonic and adult stem cells into replacement tissues and organs in order to treat more diseases.

The grants awarded today will support the development of stem cell research consortia aimed at linking research institutions and corporations, building and strengthening interdisciplinary research teams, establishing core research facilities, and developing stem cell training and education programs.

Future grants will fund multi-institutional research equipment and core facilities; stimulate and support new discoveries in stem cell research; and support the development of improved methods for deriving pluripotent stem cell lines for use in potential therapeutic applications. Induced pluripotent cells, like embryonic cells, have the potential to develop into other types of body tissues.

Recipients of the 1-year planning grants awarded today are:

  • Albert Einstein College of Medicine $120,000
  • Brookhaven National Laboratory $76,800
  • Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory $118,920
  • Columbia University Medical Center $120,000
  • Columbia University - Morningside $119,960
  • Cornell University $120,000
  • Montefiore Medical Center $118,180
  • Mount Sinai School of Medicine $120,000
  • New York Medical College $119,705
  • New York Stem Cell Foundation $119,797
  • Ordway Research Institute $85,409
  • Regenerative Research Foundation $120,000
  • Roswell Park Cancer Institute $120,000
  • SUNY - Downstate Medical Center $120,000
  • SUNY - Stony Brook University $118,800
  • SUNY- University at Albany $119,948
  • University of Rochester $76,751
  • Weill Medical College of Cornell University $117,127

More information on New York's stem cell research initiative can be found at the program website: www.stemcell.ny.gov.