Governor Paterson Proclaims September 23 as Stem Cell Awareness Day in New York State

State Health Department Presents Award-Winning Documentary;
Highlights Stem Cell Research through Scientist's Personal Journey

ALBANY, N.Y. (September 23, 2009) - Governor David A. Paterson has proclaimed today, September 23, as Stem Cell Awareness Day in New York State to recognize the scientific advances made in stem cell research. Tonight at 7 p.m., an award-winning documentary that follows one scientist's personal journey to help others through stem cell research will be presented by the New York State Department of Health (DOH) at the David Axelrod Institute, 120 New Scotland Ave., in Albany.

"New York State reinforced its historic position as a leader in biomedical research and provided an economic boost to the State in 2007 when it adopted an 11-year, $600 million initiative for stem cell research," said Governor David A. Paterson. "New York residents are among the millions of people around the world who suffer from debilitating diseases and injury who may benefit from stem cell therapies. Investment in stem cell research is also part of a New Economy in New York State based on technology, innovation, and research and development."

"New York State is strongly committed to stem cell research as an investment in the health of New Yorkers," said State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. "The science is rapidly advancing and shows great promise in translating basic stem cell science discoveries into practical applications that may lead to new treatments for devastating diseases and injuries."

The free screening of Terra Incognita: Mapping Stem Cell Research features Dr. Jack Kessler, the current chair of Northwestern University's Department of Neurology and Clinical Neurological Sciences, and his daughter, Allison, an undergraduate student at Harvard University. The documentary, produced by Kartemquin Films, follows Dr. Kessler as he focuses his research on curing spinal cord injury with stem cells after his daughter is paralyzed from a skiing accident.

The 90-minute film follows the evolving interplay between the promise of new discoveries, the controversy of modern science, and the resilience and courage of people living every day with devastating disease and injury. The documentary has aired on PBS, been screened at numerous film festivals, and won several awards, including a Peabody and Best Feature Documentary at the 2009 KOS International Health Film Festival in Greece.

At the film's conclusion, staff from New York Stem Cell Science (NYSTEM), the program that administers New York State's investment in stem cell research, will answer questions about stem cell science and the state's program.

A photo ID is required for admission to the film.

In recognition of Stem Cell Awareness Day, NYSTEM is also sponsoring an "image contest." A panel of scientists and artists will judge stem cell images submitted by researchers for their scientific significance and visual appeal. The top 12 images will be posted on the NYSTEM web site,, and will be incorporated into a 2010 calendar available for downloading from the website.

NYSTEM is administered by DOH's Wadsworth Center laboratories and guided by the Empire State Stem Cell Board. The Board's mission is to foster a strong stem cell research community, accelerate growth in scientific knowledge about stem cell biology, and develop therapies to improve human health and alleviate disease under the highest ethical, scientific, and medical standards.