New York's Investment in Stem Cell Program Continues to Generate New Medical Treatments and Innovative Research

Government Relations Committee”Public Relations Committee”

The Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY) today released a 2012 report showing how New York’s stem cell program has enabled it to emerge as a leader in stem cell research, and strengthened the state’s economy through job creation.

“This report demonstrates the foresight of New York’s leaders in funding stem cell research. Not only are scientists across the state making progress towards understanding how to treat or prevent debilitating diseases, New York’s stem cell program generates jobs, attracts promising young women and men into medical and scientific careers, and enhances our state’s leadership in biomedical research,” said Dr. Lee Goldman, AMSNY’s chair, and executive vice president and dean of the Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons.

In 2007, New York State allocated $600 million over 11 years to the Empire State Stem Cell Program (NYSTEM), making it the second largest publically-financed stem cell program in the country. To date, New York has awarded nearly $223 million of the $600 million to support stem cell research for the purpose of exploring innovative cures and treatment to life threatening and chronic illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s, and Arterial Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

In addition to supporting ground-breaking stem cell research projects, the state’s investment has been a tool for economic development by creating or maintaining more than 400 jobs at AMSNY institutions since the program’s inception, and is attracting world-renowned researchers and scientists to New York.

Dr. Ronald G. Crystal, chairman and professor of Genetic Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, said, “Stem cell research holds the promise of tomorrow’s medical breakthroughs to improve human health. Continuing to advance stem cell research in New York is vital since we are one of the strongest and largest centers of stem cell science in the world and home to some of the most talented medical researchers. Funding for stem cell research in New York is critical and any reduction in support will slow our progress toward securing the important discoveries and cures for the devastating diseases that affect New Yorkers.”

Dr. Allen M. Spiegel, dean of Albert Einstein College of Medicine said, “The Albert Einstein College of Medicine has made a major commitment to the stem cell research field because it offers tremendous potential for understanding the causes of and developing better treatments for diseases like cancer, type 1 diabetes, and Parkinson’s. The NYSTEM program has been critical in helping Einstein support innovative and technically advanced work in this vital field.”

Dennis S. Charney, MD, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at the Mount Sinai Medical Center said, “Stem cell research has the potential to transform the way medicine is practiced and it is an area that has been one of Mount Sinai’s top priorities. Our researchers at the Black Family Stem Cell Institute, with funding from The Empire State Stem Cell Program, were the first to develop abnormal heart cells from human stem cells, allowing them to study potential treatments for cardiomyopathy. Maintaining funding for stem cell research is essential to the continued success of our research programs which, in addition to studying heart disease, include researching potential treatments for schizophrenia, autism, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes.”

Ruth Lehmann, PhD, Director of the Kimmel Center for Stem Cell Biology and the Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine at NYU School of Medicine, part of the NYU Langone Medical Center, said, “In the current political and economic climate, where the government’s funding choices are being scrutinized, it is important to realize the impact of continuing to support early stage research and development, particularly in stem cell biology. The majority of scientific and medical discoveries originate in early stage laboratory research. By focusing its support on early stage research, NYSTEM has attracted new researchers to the field of stem cell biology who are bringing creative ideas and new approaches to this important field. At NYU Langone, this support has contributed to understanding the underlying causes of leukemia and to developing new approaches for cancer stem cell therapies. Without this funding, academic medical centers cannot thrive, and our leadership as innovators in health and science is threatened.”

According to the report, New York’s funding commitment is critical to the state’s stem cell research and patient communities given its unique nature. NYSTEM funds early stage projects that have not been able to access other funding sources such as those granted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NYSTEM also is distinct among other research grants in that it provides funding for capital projects and equipment, allowing institutions to develop or expand their stem cell research infrastructure.

“NYSTEM has made it possible for cutting-edge stem cell research to thrive in New York,” said Jo Wiederhorn, AMSNY’s president and CEO. “Across the state, medical schools and research institutions have been renovating laboratories and building state-of-the-art stem cell centers – spurring economic development and fostering medical innovation. None of this would have been possible without NYSTEM.”

The program also has stimulated state research institutions to make their own investments in stem cell research, which in turn has improved their ability to win additional NIH grants and attract private sector and philanthropic funding.

For the full report, click here.

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