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Training Support  The National Institute of General Medical Sciences has renewed Dr. Margaret Kielian’s Program in Cellular and Molecular Biology and Genetics T32 training grant with an award of $4 million over five years. The grant, which has been in effect since 1987, financially supports the training of Ph.D. graduate students in interdisciplinary areas of cell biology, molecular biology and genetics. The diverse research conducted by the trainees has implications for major human health issues, including cancer, infectious diseases, autoimmunity, and developmental problems. The program includes faculty from eight basic science departments at Einstein and, over the past decade has graduated 45 Ph.D. students, 90 percent of whom have continued to work in science-related careers. Dr. Kielian is professor of cell biology and has been the training grant director for the past five years.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

Promising Investigations  Dr. Edward Schwartz was awarded a $1.5 million grant over five years by the National Cancer Institute to study a promising new drug, AEAC (6-(2-aminoethyl)amino-5-chlorouracil) for the treatment of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, a small subset of pancreatic cancers that possess a high number of structurally abnormal blood vessels. AEAC inhibits the ability of a tumor to expand its network of new, nutrient-supplying blood vessels (angiogenesis) by blocking the pro-angiogenic factor thymidine phosphorylase. Building upon his laboratory’s recent discovery of this drug, Dr. Schwartz and his research team will employ mouse models of pancreatic cancer to investigate its activity and mechanisms of action, used alone and in combination therapy. The goal of these studies is to determine new approaches for treating pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer that could then be tested in clinical trials. Dr. Schwartz is professor of medicine (oncology).

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

Effective Gene Therapy — In a paper recently published in Blood, Dr. Eric Bouhassira and his student Chanjung Chang describe a novel approach for the safe insertion of therapeutic genes into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).  Using this new method, the duo was able to insert the α-globin gene into iPSCs to treat α-thalassemia, a blood-related disease that is usually fatal at birth and results from a mutation in the α-globin gene. After differentiation of the corrected-iPS into red blood cells,  Dr. Bouhassira and Mr. Chang were able to demonstrate that the gene correction was very effective since red blood cells produced from the treated stem cells expressed quasi-normal levels of hemoglobins.  These experiments represent a major step  toward  curing a-thalassemias and other blood diseases by transplantation  of patient-specific, gene-corrected stem cells.  Dr. Bouhassira is professor of medicine (hematology) and of cell biology, and the Ingeborg and Ira Leon Rennert Professor of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 
Polly Bijur

Pain Gain — A team led by Dr. Polly Bijur has been awarded $1.2 million over three years from the NIH’s National Institute of Nursing Research, to evaluate pain management in the emergency department. Their study will determine the safety and efficacy of an innovative system in which patients are permitted to administer their own pain treatments. Successful implementation of this system could improve both emergency department productivity and patient outcomes. Dr. Bijur is professor of epidemiology & population health, of emergency medicine and of pediatrics.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

Structure-Function Funding  Dr. Thaddeus Bargiello has received a grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences totaling $1.2 million over four years to support his study of the neurological disorder X-linked Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, as well as mutations that cause nonsyndromic and syndromic deafness. The mutations of interst to Dr. Bargiello occur in proteins called connexin channels, which are responsible for communication between cells.  The goal of his research is to understand how these disease-causing mutations effect the structure and assembly of the connexin channels and to identify targets for the development of treatments for these diseases.  Dr. Bargiello is a professor of neuroscience.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

Heady Influence — What is the function and disease relevance of the adult neural stem cells found in the mouse hypothalamus? In a study published in October 2012 in Nature Cell Biology, Einstein researchers led by Dr. Dongsheng Cai showed that these stem cells help to centrally regulate metabolic physiology and that their dysregulation resulted in weight and glucose disorders that can cause type 2 diabetes. The researchers put mice on a long-term high-fat diet and observed that levels of hypothalamic neural stem cells became drastically depleted and that the neuronal differentiation of the stem cells was severely impaired. They found that the high fat diet’s neurodegenerative action was caused by activation of the proinflammatory pathway involving IκB kinase B (IKKB) and the downstream nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB), leading to obesity and pre-diabetes. Dr. Cai is professor of molecular pharmacology. Other Einstein authors on the paper were Juxue Li and Yizhe Tang.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 
Joel Friedman

Reducing Complications — The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has awarded Einstein researchers led by Dr. Joel Friedman $10.8 million, to carry out a five-year multi-institutional study of hemoglobin toxicity that may complicate blood transfusions and reduce the effectiveness of blood substitutes. Long-term goals of the research include making blood transfusions safer and more effective, and better matching patients with the transfusion strategy best suited to them. The research funded through this grant is especially important due to the explosion of obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome, which increases inflammation in blood vessels and can lead to transfusion complications. Other institutions receiving funding include Rice University, the University of California, San Diego and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA); Dr. Friedman’s co- principal investigators at these institutions are Drs. John Olson, Marcos Intaglietta, and Abdu Alayash, respectively. Dr. Friedman holds the Young Men's Division Chair in Physiology and is professor of physiology & biophysics and of medicine.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

Taste in the Brain — In the November 1 issue of Cell MetabolismDr. Gary Schwartz and postdoctoral fellow Dr. Clémence Blouet report on the importance of the brainstem control of energy balance in the body.  While most research in this area has focused on the hypothalamus as the primary site of regulation, Drs. Schwartz and Blouet have found the brainstem to be a critical location for the detection and integration of multiple fuel-related signals.  They identified specific subsets of neurons in the brainstem that can sense the amino acid leucine and found that this signaling decreased food intake and body weight.  This work contributes to the growing understanding of how the body maintains energy homeostasis, which may have important implications for the nutritional control of the growing rates of obesity in the United States.  Drs. Schwartz and Blouet are in the Diabetes Research and Training Center in the departments of medicine and neuroscience.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

Collaborating for the Cause — Researchers at the Albert Einstein Cancer Center and the Montefiore Medical Center, led by Dr. Richard Gorlick, are part of a 50-institution, nonprofit consortium, the Sarcoma Alliance for Research Through Collaboration (SARC), whose aim  is tobetter understand the biology of sarcomas and to develop new approaches to their diagnosis and treatment. Sarcomas are cancers of bone and connective tissues and account for about 15 percent of childhood cancers. SARC was recently awarded a Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant of $11.5 million over five years from the National Cancer Institute. The SPORE funding will be dispersed among the SARC member institutions to support a variety of clinical research projects, as well as career development awards. Dr. Gorlick is professor of pediatrics and of molecular pharmacology at Einstein and vice chair of pediatrics at Montefiore. He also is leader of SARC’s Clinical Research Committee, which will determine recipients of the SPORE career development awards. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

Heady Success — Dr. Michael Lipton has been awarded a $200,000 grant by the Dana Foundation, as part of its David Mahoney Neuroimaging Program, to study soccer heading-related brain injury.  A private, New York based, philanthropic organization, the Dana Foundation supports brain-related research through grants and educational public outreach efforts.  Dr. Lipton’s research on the effects of heading, a move in which soccer players direct the ball with their head, received national press attention last year and informed the public of its potential dangers.  The foundation’s funding  supports his continuing studies, through which he will use state-of-the-art imaging techniques to further understand the brain injury that occurs.  Dr. Lipton is associate director of the Gruss Magnetic Resonance Research Center and associate professor of radiology, of neuroscience and of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 
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