Groundbreaking research to advance the application of stem cells to address critical injuries and diseases is taking place at the Rensselaer Center for Stem Cell Research, a new center funded by New York state that opened in June.
The center was launched officially by President Shirley Ann Jackson, New York State Department of Health Commissioner Nirav Shah, and Jonathan Dordick, director of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS) and the Howard P. Isermann ’42 Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering. They were joined at the ribbon cutting by Glenn Monastersky, CBIS operations director and biomedical engineering professor of practice. Monastersky is also principal investigator under the $2.45 million grant awarded to fund the new center, from the New York State Stem Cell Science Program (NYSTEM).
“The opening of the Rensselaer Center for Stem Cell Research marks a milestone on the path toward this important area of exploration, which promises so much in terms of alleviating disease and improving health,” said President Jackson. “At the center we will work at the frontiers of this promising discipline in collaboration with New York state and investigators from across the region.
According to Dordick, the new center continues to place CBIS and the research conducted there on the leading edge of efforts to harness advances in biotechnology to address 21st century health challenges.
“Ranging from our work on the blood anti-coagulant drug heparin to solutions to fighting some of today’s ‘super bugs’ to important advances in understanding Alzheimer’s disease, we are focusing our efforts on scientific advances that will ultimately open the doors to new cures for traumatic injuries or treatments for long-term conditions and diseases,” Dordick said. “Now, working with our partners at New York state and other researchers in the region, we will expand our work on stem cells to help the medical and scientific research communities advance efforts to better understand those cells and how they can be used in medicine.”
Research on stem cells offers promise in an array of health areas, ranging from trying to regenerate damaged nerve cells following spinal cord injuries to offering potential cures for autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and Type 1 diabetes.
“To succeed at the cutting edge of stem cell research, sophisticated shared resources must be available. The center that we have designed, funded by the NYSTEM award, will provide unique and valuable research platforms for stem cell researchers throughout upstate New York. Many basic principles of the biology and regulation of pluripotent stem cells remain to be elucidated, and dedicated resources are essential to support research with stem cells, which offer great potential for the discovery of new drugs and life-saving medical therapies,” Monastersky said.