Begins New Stem Cell Center
Weill Cornell Medical
College recently established the new Ansary Center for Stem
Cell Therapeutics. which will bring together a premier team
of scientists to focus on stem cells—the primitive,
unspecialized cells with capacity to form all types of cells
in the body.
The Center is being created with a $15 million
grant from Shahla and Hushang Ansary, prominent Houston philanthropists.
Mr. Ansary is a Vice Chairman of Weill Cornell Medical College’s
Board of Overseers.
“The Ansary Center will help lead the way
into 21st century medicine in this extremely promising area,” said
Dr. Antonio M. Gotto, Jr., Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College. “Weill
Cornell scientists and physicians are already world leaders
in stem cell research, and Mr. Ansary’s generous gift
will help spur the creativity and collaboration of our scientists,
as well as help attract the best and brightest young researchers
in the field.”
“We are witnessing the birth of a new field
of research that has tremendous potential for relieving human
suffering,” said Hushang Ansary. It’s an exciting
time, and we believe this prestigious Center will have a significant
impact in the field.”
Added Dr. David P. Hajjar,
Executive Vice Dean for Research at Weill Cornell, “This
Center will help position Weill Cornell at the vanguard of
stem cell and developmental biology research in this country.”
Dr. Shahin Rafii, a noted authority in the field
and the recently named Arthur Belfer Professor of Genetic Medicine
at Weill Cornell, will direct the new Center.
Stem cells are immature
cells that can differentiate into all types of cells in the
body, from heart-beat-generating cardiac cells to insulin-producing
cells in the pancreas. Embryonic stems cells form shortly
after sperm and egg meet, and have enormous potential to
develop into different types of cells. Adult stem cells—which can be found in umbilical cord
blood, bone marrow, blood, and other parts of the body—have
tremendous potential as well.
The Ansary Center will take a synergistic approach
to stem cell research and bring together scientists from different
areas of biomedical research to solve complex problems. They
hope to discover the wellspring of adult stem cells in the
body and ways to manipulate stem cells to treat human illness.
In particular, the researchers hope to understand the regulation
of cells that give rise to blood vessels, to insulin-producing
cells in the pancreas (which are damaged in diabetics), and
to neurons of the brain and nervous system.
The Ansary Center will also create a rigorous
environment where scientists from various disciplines will
collaborate on finding tissue-specific cell signals that help
regulate and promote the survival of adult stem cells. This
information could be used to find or design drugs that could
boost stem cell growth or differentiation.
The Center will function in accordance with all
Federal regulations regarding the use of adult, fetal, and
embryonic stem cells.#