New York Stem Cell Foundation
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The New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) is an American 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, founded in the Spring of 2005, with the mission “accelerating cures for the major diseases of our time through stem cell research.” NYSCF established the first privately funded stem cell laboratory in New York City, where NYSCF researchers and scientific collaborators conduct advanced stem cell investigations. The foundation supports stem cell scientists through the NYSCF Innovator Program, and it engages the academic, medical, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology communities by annually hosting the world’s preeminent translational stem cell research conference and by organizing other symposia throughout the year. NYSCF educates the public on the importance of stem cell research to cure the major diseases of our time.
The foundation focuses on three areas:
- NYSCF Research and Laboratory – Support and enable the unrestricted pursuit of the most advanced stem cell research, in the NYSCF laboratory and through collaborations with major medical research institutions worldwide.
- NYSCF Innovator Program – Supports and trains the next generation of scientists, at the postdoctoral level as Fellows or as Investigators, pursuing innovative work that translates research into cures. NYSCF awards an annual prize each year to honor the most significant achievement in translational stem cell research.
- NYSCF Conference and Symposia – Convene the preeminent annual translational stem cell research conference and on-going programs for scientists, policymakers and the public.
- 1 History
- 2 The NYSCF Research Institute
- 3 Innovator Programs
- 4 Outreach
- 5 The NYSCF Global Stem Cell Array
- 6 Milestones and Scientific Achievements
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
In 2005, Susan L. Solomon co-founded The New York Stem Cell Foundation to accelerate stem cell research to cure major disease. Solomon, an attorney with a distinguished career in business, began her journey as a health-care advocate in 1992 when her son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. As a result of her son’s diagnosis and then her mother’s death from cancer in 2004, she sought to find a way in which the most advanced medical research could translate more quickly into cures. In conversations with scientists and clinicians, Solomon identified stem cells as the most promising way to address the unmet patient needs. In 2006, NYSCF established its own laboratory, which has now become one of the largest private stem cell laboratories in the United States, now referred to as The NYSCF Research Institute.
NYSCF channels private philanthropy toward the most promising stem cell research. NYSCF has raised nearly $100 million for stem cell research both in its own laboratory and in the major medical institutions around the world that it continues to support.
The NYSCF Research Institute
In March 2006, NYSCF opened the first privately funded human embryonic stem cell (hESC) laboratory in New York. Initially, the lab acted as a safe haven, free from federal restrictions for scientists to conduct all types of stem cell research, including studies that involve embryonic stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells, and somatic cell nuclear transfer.
In 2014, the NYSCF Research Institute occupies over 6,000 square feet of space, and employs 40 full-time researchers. The NYSCF Research Institute is home to the NYSCF Global Stem Cell Array, a proprietary, automated robotic technology that produces induced pluripotent stem cell lines in a standardized manner.
NYSCF focuses its research efforts on disease modeling and the development of cell therapies.
Scientists at the NYSCF Research Institute conduct translational stem cell research in the following disease areas:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease)
- Diabetes (type 1, 2, and other types)
- Cardiovascular disease
- Macular degeneration
- Mitochondrial disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
NYSCF Researchers Publish on Method to Prevent Inheritance of Mitochondrial Disease in Nature
According to the December 19, 2012 issue of Nature, NYSCF scientists, in collaboration with Columbia University Medical Center researchers, successfully transferred the nuclei between egg cells without detectable adverse effects on the resultant egg cell. The technique represents a way to prevent the inheritance of mitochondrial diseases. Women with a family history of mitochondrial diseases will be able to have children without risk of passing on these diseases. Specifically, the team removed the nucleus of an unfertilized egg cell and replaced it with the nucleus of another donor’s egg cell, but, unlike the work of previous groups, the researchers lowered the temperature of the egg, increasing transfer success rate.
NYSCF Researchers Derive Pluripotent Stem Cells from Human Egg Cells, Reported in Nature
Time magazine-cited research led by NYSCF scientists Dieter Egli and Scott Noggle reprogrammed the adult skin cells from Type 1 diabetes patients to the pluripotent state by combining these cells with unfertilized donor eggs, as reported in Nature. The scientists then differentiated the pluripotent cells into other cell types in the body, including insulin-producing beta cells. This is an important advance in the development of patient-specific stem cells that could help in the study of and potentially the treatment for diabetes. If translated into a clinical therapy, the cells generated through this somatic-cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) method could replace damaged or diseased cells without rejection by the patient’s immune system.
NYSCF Investigator Derrick Rossi Named to Time’s “People Who Mattered”
In the December 27, 2010 edition of Time magazine, Derrick Rossi, PhD, a NYSCF – Robertston Investigator and an Assistant Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School, was named one of 2010’s “People Who Mattered”. Dr. Rossi pioneered a method to reprogram skin cells into stem cells with messenger molecules rather than viral vectors. Clinically significant, this eliminates risk of viral contamination and the related development of cancer.
NYSCF Chief Scientific Officer Kevin Eggan First to Create Neurons from ALS Patients
Kevin Eggan, PhD, of Harvard University, applied induced pluripotent stem cell derivation techniques pioneered by Shinya Yamanaka, MD, to generate the first motor neurons from skin samples of ALS patients. These cells could be used to study the progression of motor neuron disease, which researchers cannot do in an ALS patient. This research was published in Science and cited by Time magazine as the #1 Medical Breakthrough of 2009.
The New York Stem Cell Foundation Fellowship and Investigator Programs, which compose its Innovator Programs, support the next generation of scientists. To encourage the brightest postdoctoral researchers to pursue stem cell investigations, the Innovator Program provides critical support to help as they enter the next stage of their careers.
The NYSCF Fellowship Program
The NYSCF Fellowship Program is the largest dedicated stem cell fellowship program in the world, and it has provided support for 35 researchers from leading institutions worldwide. Within the next five years, it will support an additional 30 researchers.
The NYSCF – Robertson Investigator Program
The Investigator Program builds on the highly successful NYSCF Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. It supports outstanding early career investigators from the US and around the world, who often have difficulty obtaining traditional support for their work. The program provides five years of critical seed funding to outstanding early career scientists engaged in stem cell research focused on finding cures, supporting them as they move beyond their postdoctoral training to establish their own laboratories.
The program encompasses two research areas: neuroscience and stem cell technology. The Stem Cell Investigators engage in the basic biology and the translational potential of stem cells. Eleven early career scientists have joined the Stem Cell Investigator program. The Neuroscience Investigators, who need not undertake stem cell research, conduct innovative neuroscience that carries the potential to transform our fundamental understanding of the brain. Eight scientists have become Neuroscience Investigators.
The NYSCF – Robertson Prize
Annually since 2011, The New York Stem Cell Foundation has honored the remarkable achievements of young stem cell researchers with The NYSCF – Robertson Prize. The largest prize for stem cell research, each recipient receives a cash award as well as a sculpture designed by architect Frank Gehry, winner of the 2009 NYSCF Humanitarian Award.
In 2012, Kazutoshi Takahashi, PhD, Lecturer at Kyoto University, won the NYSCF – Robertson Prize. Dr. Takahashi was the first author on a series of papers with Shinya Yamanaka, PhD, which described, for the first time, reprogramming adult cells into pluripotent stem cells. This work, the derivation of induced pluripotent stem cells, led to Dr. Yamanaka’s 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
In 2011, Peter J. Coffey, DPhil, Professor of Cellular Therapy and Visual Sciences at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, was the inaugural recipient of the NYSCF – Robertson Prize. As the Director of the London Project to Cure Blindness, Dr. Coffey has provided his expertise in human embryonic stem cells to develop a treatment to cure Age-Related Macular Degeneration.
The NYSCF Translational Stem Cell Research Conference
Annually held in October at Rockefeller University, The NYSCF Translational Stem Cell Research Conference convenes preeminent stem cell scientists and members of the medical, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology communities. The conference’s topics are arranged by disease area, with separate symposia that address topics related to the stem cell field.
On October 10–11, 2012, NYSCF held its seventh conference, with a record attendance of over 400. Paneled discussions such as Revolutionizing Functional Human Genetics composed the first day, while the second day focused on research breakthroughs organized by disease area. Kazutoshi Takahashi, PhD, the recipient of the 2012 NYSCF – Robertson Prize and first author on a series of papers that led to Shinya Yamanaka’s Nobel prize-winning research on induced pluripotent stem cell derivation, delivered a keynote address.
The New York Stem Cell Foundation engages with the public and scientific community throughout the year.
From 2006 - 2012, NYSCF held a public outreach panel in New York City that stressed the importance of stem cell research to finding cures to disease.
The NYSCF Global Stem Cell Array
The NYSCF Laboratory is developing The NYSCF Global Stem Cell Array (Array), which, for the first time, manufactures standardized cells that act as human disease models. Specifically, the Array captures the full spectrum of genetic and ethnic diversity within the human population as stem cell lines. Both healthy donors and diseased patients contribute skin and/or blood. Automated robotic technologies and proprietary protocols transform these samples into standardized, high-quality stem cell lines (i.e. induced pluripotent stem cells or iPSCs), which may thereafter be reprogrammed into other cell types (e.g. heart cells, liver cells, and brain cells). These cells provide a platform by which researchers can study basic biological development and disease progression.
Researchers may anticipate, on a large scale, how people from genetically diverse backgrounds respond to new drugs—in other words, conduct “clinical trials in a dish.” For the first time, potential drug metabolism and toxicity issues are identified in advance of human clinical trials. Additionally, the Array facilitates the customization of drugs and the creation of cell therapies to match a person’s own genetic type, increasing the likelihood of drug success and decreasing the odds of adverse effects.
Milestones and Scientific Achievements
- In December 2012, NYSCF scientists report in Nature a successful technique that could be applied to prevent the inheritance of mitochondrial disease in children
- Susan L. Solomon was honored by the Genetics Policy Institute with the Stem Cell Action Leadership award
- Susan L. Solomon presented at TEDGlobal in Edinburgh, Scotland
- Scott Noggle, PhD, Director of the NYSCF Lab, is named to Crain’s New York’s “40 under 40”
- Nature reports major advance in the development of patient-specific stem cells led by NYSCF researchers Dieter Egli, PhD, and Scott Noggle, PhD, in the NYSCF Laboratory
- NYSCF awards the Inaugural NYSCF – Robertson Stem Cell Prize to Peter J. Coffey, DPhil, for pioneering work with hESCs to treat age-related macular degeneration
- NYSCF honors Dorothy Lichtenstein with its Humanitarian Award at its Gala
- Derick Rossi, PhD, a NYSCF Investigator, is named to Time magazine’s “People who Mattered” list
- The New York Stem Cell Science Program awards NYSCF with a facilities grant
- Solomon discusses stem cell research on The Martha Stewart Show
- Solomon attends signing of President Obama’s executive order “Removing Barriers to Responsible Scientific Research Involving Human Stem Cells” at the White House
- Ten-time Olympic medalist and diabetes patient Gary Hall, Jr. featured on NYSCF public outreach panel
- Solomon discusses New York State’s decision to fund research that includes compensating egg donors
- NYSCF honors Frank Gehry with its Humanitarian Award and Joel S. Marcus with its Leadership Award at its Gala
- Susan L. Solomon honored with Women of Excellence Award by Governor David Paterson
- Time and Science cite NYSCF-funded research as the most significant scientific breakthrough of the year
- NYSCF meets with President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team to provide input on the administration’s human embryonic stem cell research policies
- NYSCF Laboratory more than doubles in size to accommodate research projects
- NYSCF serves an advisory role to Governor Eliot Spitzer and Lieutant Governor David Paterson in drafting New York State’s eleven year, $600M stem cell research funding initiative, New York State Stem Cell Science program
- NYSCF opens the first privately funded stem cell laboratory in New York
- NYSCF awards the first postdoctoral fellowship to Elena Ezhkova, PhD
- NYSCF convenes its Inaugural Translational Stem Cell Research Conference at Rockefeller University
- NYSCF holds its first Gala for scientists and supporters, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Dick Wolf speak
- Solomon and Mary Elizabeth Bunzel featured in the November issue of Science and hailed “stem cell pioneers”
- NYSCF receives anonymous pledge of $1M to begin its daily operations
- National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences
- New York State Stem Cell Science
- California Institute for Regenerative Medicine
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