Starr Foundation Continues Support for Stem Cell Research in New York with $50 Million Gift

Tri-Institutional Stem Cell Initiative Pursues Cutting-Edge Stem Cell Research and Therapies

Newswise NEW YORK (April 23, 2012) — The Starr Foundation is continuing its historic commitment to stem cell research with a $50 million gift in support of the Tri-Institutional Stem Cell Initiative (Tri-SCI), which was established through a generous grant from the Foundation in 2005. The new gift, awarded to the original Tri-SCI members — Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, The Rockefeller University and Weill Cornell Medical College, all in New York City — will support and enhance collaborative, pioneering stem cell research at the three adjacent Manhattan campuses.

With support from The Starr Foundation, Tri-SCI laboratories are investigating the properties of embryonic stem cells, which have the potential to differentiate into any cell type in the body, and adult stem cells, which are found in various tissues and can give rise to specific cell types. These studies are opening new avenues for understanding a range of health conditions, including developmental disorders, neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. The knowledge gained through this research is also laying the groundwork for the design of regenerative therapies to replenish tissues lost to illness or injury.

Under the Tri-Institutional Stem Cell Initiative, investigators work across institutional and disciplinary boundaries to advance scientific understanding in a rapidly expanding field of biomedicine. The Tri-SCI funds technology development, seminars and symposia to foster intellectual exchange, and fellowships to train future leaders in stem cell research.

“Stem cell research has undergone a remarkable expansion and transformation in the seven years since this initiative was launched,” says Maurice R. Greenberg, chairman of The Starr Foundation’s Board of Directors. “There are many exciting developments on the horizon, and I am delighted that The Starr Foundation can renew its support of this important collaborative effort at such a promising time.”

Based in New York City, the Foundation has long supported medical research, health care, human needs and educational programs in New York City, as well as cultural institutions and public policy projects relating to international relations. Of the nearly three billion dollars in grants made by the Foundation since 1955, more than half has gone to New York-based institutions.

“The goals of the Tri-Institutional Stem Cell Initiative are truly ambitious, and only a collaborative venture of this magnitude could provide the resources and expertise needed to achieve them,” said Craig Thompson, MD, President and CEO of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. “All of us at Memorial Sloan-Kettering are deeply grateful to The Starr Foundation for its incredible vision and generosity in supporting this vital area of research.”

“We deeply appreciate The Starr Foundation’s generosity and commitment to excellence in biomedical research. The Tri-Institutional Stem Cell Initiative will enable our scientists to continue their pursuit of bold new ideas that will better human health,” says Dr. Laurie H. Glimcher, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College.

“To realize the full promise of stem cells in regenerative medicine, we need to understand the molecular mechanisms that determine a stem cell’s potential to develop into many types of functional cells in the body,” says Dr. Marc Tessier-Lavigne, president of The Rockefeller University. “As the climate for federal funding of stem cell research remains uncertain, we are grateful to The Starr Foundation for its continued commitment to supporting both existing and exciting new collaborative efforts by stem cell researchers at our three institutions.”

Research Highlights from the Tri-Institutional Stem Cell Initiative

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Starr Foundation Continues Support for Stem Cell Research in New York with $50 Million Gift