Columbia Receives $2.5 Million To Support Stem Cell Initiatives

January 7, 2008

New York State Funding to Support Core Facilities, New Technology NEW YORK – (Monday, Jan. 7, 2008) It was announced today that Columbia University will receive $2.5 million in funding support for stem cell research from the Empire State Stem Cell Board, the agency Governor Eliot Spitzer and the New York State Legislature created to manage the $600 million allocated for stem cell research in this year’s state budget. The awards were announced by the Governor and Lieutenant Governor David A. Paterson.

The funding will support the close to seventy Columbia University researchers who are actively involved in cutting-edge work with adult, embryonic, and other forms of stem cells. Columbia researchers are using advances in human biology and new stem cell technology to better understand and treat disease such as diabetes, Parkinson’s and Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

The core facilities enabled by this initiative will provide a powerful combination of technical resources that will facilitate new insights into the molecular phenomena that drive stem cell self-renewal and differentiation while also promoting the application of these insights to develop practical therapies. Research efforts are aimed at the entire spectrum of research from improving the understanding of the basic biological mechanisms underlying stem cell differentiation to improving tissue engineering for a variety of human health needs, and to helping researchers understand why antidepressants tend to have a delayed onset before efficacy is apparent in hopes of developing of better treatments.

Columbia University Medical Center in Washington Heights, researchers at Columbia’s Morningside campus, and colleagues at the New York State Psychiatric Institute will use this funding to support technologies needed to work with these unique stem cell lines and to support resource sharing and collaborations among laboratories working on related topics and disease areas.

The supported core facilities include a neurogenesis core facility, an ultradeep sequencing core facility that will allow for exploration of the “molecular profile” of stem cells, a fluorescence-activated cell sorter that will allow for purification of differentiated stem cells and a stem cell functional imaging core facility, as well as a proteomics shared resource center that will substantially advance the mass-spectrometry-based proteomic tools.

“Nearly two years ago, prior to their successful election, Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson came to Columbia University Medical Center to announce their support for stem cell research and to unveil their plan for promoting this work in New York,” said David Hirsh, Ph.D., Executive Vice President for Research at Columbia University. “Today, we see the initial results of that plan. I applaud Governor Spitzer, Lieutenant Governor Patterson, Health Commissioner Richard Daines and the Empire State Stem Cell Board for their effective and expeditious leadership on promoting stem cell research in New York State and for moving forward on the funds appropriated by the legislature.”

Hirsh said that this first Empire State Stem Cell Grant will help biomedical research institutions like Columbia improve their stem cell research infrastructure and enable them to create core facilities to advance their ongoing investigations.

“The internal process of preparing the proposal served to catalyze important strategic thinking about how to tackle and realize the promise of this important research direction involving stem cells,” said Hirsh. “Both this infrastructure and the multi-institution forum for discussion it created will position the state’s universities to best use the additional funds that will become available over the next ten years.”

“We look forward to working with the state and our colleagues at other institutions across New York to realize the promise of the state’s investment in stem cell research,” said Christopher Henderson, Professor of Pathology, Neurology and Neuroscience at Columbia University Medical Center and co-director of the Motor Neuron Center.

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Columbia University Medical Center provides international leadership in pre-clinical and clinical research, in medical and health sciences education, and in patient care. The medical center trains future leaders and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, nurses, dentists, and public health professionals at the College of Physicians & Surgeons, the College of Dental Medicine, the School of Nursing, the Mailman School of Public Health, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions. www.cumc.columbia.edu

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Columbia University, Dental Medicine, Governor Spitzer, Lieutenant Governor Patterson, New York