The City College of New York (CCNY) was one of 25 institutions selected to receive the first grants awarded through New York State’s new $600 million multi-year stem cell research program. The funding, for $198,000 over one year, will strengthen CCNY’s stem cell research capabilities by supporting training of researchers and infrastructure development.
As the current frontier in biomedical research, stem cells offer great promise for cell-based therapies and tissue engineering for the next generation of regenerative medicine as well as scientific understanding of developmental biology. Stem cell research holds out hope to people who suffer from such debilitating and life-threatening ailments as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and cancer.
“While CCNY faculty members now can conduct biomedical research related to stem cells, these funds will help us develop long-term research capabilities using human embryonic stem cells,” said Dr. John Tarbell, Wallace Coulter Distinguished Professor and Chair of Biomedical Engineering, The Grove School of Engineering at The City College. Dr. Tarbell and Dr. Sihong Wang, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, are co-Principal Investigators on the grant.
The proceeds of the grant to CCNY will be used for two purposes. It will support comprehensive stem cell training for faculty members who are actively working or planning to work in stem cell research. In addition, it will fund acquisition of a fluorescence-activated cell sorter, an essential piece of equipment for stem cell characterization and isolation with high purity.
Two new science research buildings to be built on The City College campus will provide extended space and facilities for development of stem cell research at CCNY, Dr. Tarbell noted. It is anticipated that groundbreaking for these structures will take place during the spring of 2008.
Both Professors Tarbell and Wang have stem cell research investigations underway. Dr. Tarbell’s lab is examining the role of the cells’ mechanical environment in the differentiation of embryonic stem cells into hematopoietic and vascular cells. Dr. Wang and her graduate students are researching the heat shock effects on human mesenchymal stem cell proliferation and differentiation in synthetic peptide hydrogels.
Four other faculty members are supported by the grant to conduct stem cell research:
- Dr. Bingmei Fu, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, will investigate homing of mesenchymal stem cells in the microcirculation.
- Dr. Lane Gilchrist, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Chemical Engineering, plans to focus on development of supported biomembrane interfaces for mimicry of stem cells microenvironments.
- Dr. Ira Josephson, Associate Medical Professor, Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, plans to continue and extend his research on electrophysiology of murine cardiac-directed embryonic stem cells begun while he worked at the National Institute on Aging.
- Dr. Shubha Govind, Professor of Biology, is focused on identification of hematopoietic stem cells and progenitors in signaling mutants of drosophila.
The New York State grant required a matching in-kind contribution of not less than 25 percent of the grant value. This was met through equal commitments from Dr. Gillian Small, University Dean of Research, The City University of New York, and Dr. Zeev Dagan, Provost of The City College.