Gerald Fischbach Joins New Yorkers For The Advancement Of Medical Research In Advocating For $1 Billion For Stem Cell Research

February 28, 2005

On March first, Stem Cell Lobby Day, hundreds of people and their families who are affected by Parkinson’s, Juvenile Diabetes, Spinal Cord injuries and other life-threatening diseases, will come together with advocates, business leaders and scientists to ask the Legislature to fund in New York State life-saving stem cell research, including research involving embryonic stem cell research, a type of science which has the ability to help over 100 million Americans.

The group, including Dr. Gerald Fischbach, executive vice president and dean of Columbia University Medical Center, will be joined by Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver, Deputy Majority Leader of the Senate Nick Spano, and State Senator John Bonacic who will speak in support of stem cell research in New York State.

While in Albany , these adults and children will be meeting with Legislators to request their support for legislation which includes an affirmative state policy on embryonic stem-cell research as well as state funding in the form of $100 million per year for ten years. This legislation has yet to be introduced this year, but NYAMR’s goal is to have it introduced by a Majority member in the Senate and Assembly in the coming weeks.

NYAMR will call on the Governor and State Legislators not to abandon the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and their children who live each day with the specter of these life-threatening diseases. Governor Pataki and the Legislature face an important choice for New Yorkers, one that has both economic and human consequences. Support of stem cell legislation will not only provide funding for this groundbreaking research with its potential to cure so many deadly diseases, but will create thousands of new research jobs and cement New York’s position as a leader in scientific exploration.

NYAMR is a coalition of patient advocacy groups, faith-affiliated organizations, medical colleges and biotechnology companies that have a shared interest in encouraging and funding embryonic stem-cell research in New York State. NYAMR is twenty-four organizations strong including the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Hadassah, AMDeC, Columbia University Medical Center, the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, the Michael J. Fox Foundation, the Biotechnology Association of New York and numerous other stakeholders all working together for the advancement of stem-cell research in New York State.

What do the experts and advocates say about stem cell research:

Dr. Gerald Fischbach Executive Vice President and Dean of the Columbia University Medical Center "New York's strength in biomedical research is unparalleled. To remain at the forefront of stem cell research -- which could yield enormous insights into some of the most debilitating diseases of our time-- the State must step up and demonstrate its strong support. California has fired a shot across the bow and other states are considering measures to promote stem cell research. We do not want to see our best people, our best science, and the jobs and economic development that go along with it, head west. New York needs to pass legislation supporting stem cell research."

June Walker National President of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America "Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, has a long history of commitment to patient advocacy in the United States and to medical research in Israel. Scientists working with stem cells at our own Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem have made tremendous strides in Parkinson's research. They have already shown, for example, that embryonic stem cells improved the condition of laboratory rats with Parkinsonian symptoms. Given time, and government support, Hadassah scientists and others here in the United States may develop embryonic stem cell research into life-saving treatments for the hundred million Americans suffering from disease."

Mark Noble, Ph.D. Professor of Genetics and Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy at University of Rochester Medical Center “Stem cell science is going to prove as important a medical advance as vaccination and antibiotics. Here, in NYS, we have a community of stem cell scientists engaged in this work at every level, including learning how to use stem cells to repair tissue, learning how their behavior is disrupted in the developmental maladies that afflict millions of children, and discovering means of killing those cancer stem cells that make it so difficult to cure cancer. This is currently one of the top stem cell communities in the world. If New York becomes the only state with such a high level of scientific activity that is not actively promoting this work, then it is inevitable that many of our best people will be attracted elsewhere. If the NYAMR initiative is funded, in contrast, New York will be one of the great places in which to conduct this research.”

Linda Herman Parkinson’s patient and advocate “Patients battling debilitating and deadly conditions, such as Parkinson's, cancer, diabetes and spinal cord injuries have a right to life too. Stem cell research offers us real hope for our futures and hope that our children will never hear the words, "You have an incurable disease.”

Eli Bunzel, age 14 Juvenile Diabetes NYC “I've had Type 1 diabetes for more than three years and in that time I've seen scientists move closer and closer to a cure. But this cure will not come for me, or the millions of kids around the country who take insulin shots every day just to stay alive, without stem cell research. We need the hope and the promise that stem cell research brings to us.”

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Columbia University Medical Center provides international leadership in basic, pre-clinical and clinical research, medical education, and health care. The medical center trains future leaders in health care and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, nurses, dentists, and other health professionals at the College of Physicians & Surgeons, the School of Dental & Oral Surgery, 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. With a strong history of some of the most important advances and discoveries in health care, its researchers are leading the development of novel therapies and advances to address a wide range of health conditions.

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New York, New York State, New Yorkers, NYAMR, United States