Gov. Paterson Applauds Yeshiva University for Pioneer Work in Stem Cell Research


david-patersonGovernor David A. Paterson today held roundtable discussions in the Bronx and on Long Island to discuss the important progress being made by New York-based researchers of stem cell technology. Governor Paterson met with eight scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in the Bronx and its dean, Allen M. Spiegel, M.D. They discussed advances toward medical therapies and treatments that Einstein researchers have made since receiving more than $14 million in State funding for stem cell research. Einstein researchers are working to treat and cure diseases ranging from cancer and anemia to heart and liver diseases, obesity, and brain disorders. In addition, Einstein scientists are doing some highly advanced work on replicating liver cells that could reduce the need for liver transplants using live donors and cadavers, which are in short supply. This research could also lead to treatments for genetic diseases such as hemophilia.

Governor Paterson was also to meet with researchers at Long Island’s Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) and its president, Bruce Stillman. CSHL has received $2.3 million to study the basic biological mechanisms that make stem cells ripe for medical research – their unique ability to regenerate.

“I applaud the efforts of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and the more than two dozen research institutions across the State that 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.”

“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 create 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.

Part of that Stem Cell Board total are two authorizations 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. Two Requests for Applications, totaling $20.4 million in State funding and aimed at recruiting and retaining exceptionally talented postdoctoral fellows and operating specialized stem cell research facilities, will close in December.

“Creating economic security for all New Yorkers 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.”

State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., Chair of the Empire State Stem Cell Board, said: “The noteworthy advances that researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory have achieved with State funding represent what is possible when a scientist’s quest for knowledge is paired with a Governor’s understanding that an investment in biomedical research and biotechnology ensures future economic health and public health.”

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. Einstein has also received $2.3 million in grants to expand its overall capacity for stem cell research and to develop improved methods for deriving pluripotent stem cell lines. Finally, Montefiore Medical Center, the University Hospital and the Academic Medical Center for Einstein received $270,000 in grants for planning and core equipment for a cellular therapeutics facility.

“It is an honor for Einstein to be recognized by Governor Paterson for our pioneering work with stem cells,” Dean Spiegel of Einstein said. “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.”

The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has obtained $2.3 million in State funding since the beginning of 2008. Much of the funding has been used for studying the basic mechanisms of how stem cells are controlled in cancer, in the brain and in plant development. Another segment of funding has been allocated for advanced training and education in stem cell technology, as well as for a high-powered microscope to observe stem cell replication.

“We are pleased to have Governor Paterson with us today on Long Island where I am convinced that strengthened research collaboration between state and private institutions will keep New York at the leading edge of biomedical research,” CSHL President Bruce Stillman said. “Together, our institutions can improve human health and contribute to economic growth. I thank the Governor and New York State for supporting Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and biomedical research.”

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 they belong to. There are many areas in medicine in which stem cell research could have a significant impact, particularly where a patient’s cells or tissues are destroyed and must be replaced by tissue or organ transplants. Researchers believe this research also holds promise in treating and potentially curing diseases for which there are currently no adequate therapies.

{Noam Newscenter}