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Einstein receives $1.2 million from New York state for spinal cord injury research

Albert Einstein College of Medicine

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IMAGE: These are images of regrowing neurons from adult mouse spinal cords. The right image shows a neuron in which fidgetin-like 2 has been depleted, causing the neuron to regenerate as... view more

Credit: Albert Einstein College of Medicine

August 6, 2015--(BRONX, NY)--Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System have received a $1.2 million grant from New York State to advance their promising technology for treating paralysis and other effects of spinal cord injuries (SCI). The grant is one of nine totaling $5.7 million announced by Governor Cuomo yesterday. The funding will be administered by New York State Spinal Cord Injury Research program and represents the first round of competitive awards since funding was re-instated for the program in 2013.

"I would like to thank Governor Cuomo and Health Commissioner Dr. David Zucker for their support of Einstein and the other medical research institutes in New York State," said Allen M. Spiegel, M.D., the Marilyn and Stanley M. Katz Dean at Einstein. "It is a forward-looking initiative that harnesses the power of major government funding to tackle a significant health concern and improve the health and welfare of thousands of people."

Each year, approximately 1,000 New York residents and 12,000 Americans suffer SCI. In addition to the significant healthcare costs, which run in the billions each year, individuals suffer significant loss of movement and well-being.

"While the inability to stand and walk is viewed by the general public as the major disability associated with SCI, the recovery of proper bladder, bowel and sexual function are listed by patients with SCI as a top priority," said David Sharp, Ph.D., professor of physiology & biophysics at Einstein and principal investigator on the grant. "We will focus on advancing our earlier research to restore these functions." The other co-principal investigators are Kelvin Davies, Ph.D., professor of urology, and Sylvia Suadicani, Ph.D., associate professor of urology and assistant professor of neuroscience.

Dr. Sharp and colleagues previously found that reducing levels of an enzyme called fidgetin-like 2 in cells unlocks their regenerative capacity and promotes rapid wound healing. Further research in animals indicates that nanoparticles can be used to deliver fidgetin-like 2 to desired locations to restore locomotion, bladder and erectile function following SCI. The project's goals are to optimize treatment regimens for recovery from both acute and chronic SCI and to fully determine the molecular mechanisms underlying regeneration, from the level of individual cells to the entire animal.

The team members conducting the research will leverage their expertise in basic science and clinical research in the fields of cellular and molecular biology, urology and neuroscience. Other members of the research team include Moses Tar, M.D., assistant professor of urology, and Lisa Baker, a Ph.D. student in Dr. Sharp's lab. The team will work closely with the Block Institute for Clinical and Translational Research at Einstein and Montefiore to advance the technology from the lab towards a clinically available treatment.

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About Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University

Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University is one of the nation's premier centers for research, medical education and clinical investigation. During the 2013-2014 academic year, Einstein is home to 743 M.D. students, 275 Ph.D. students, 103 students in the combined M.D./Ph.D. program, and 313 postdoctoral research fellows. The College of Medicine has more than 2,000 full-time faculty members located on the main campus and at its clinical affiliates. In 2013, Einstein received more than $150 million in awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This includes the funding of major research centers at Einstein in aging, intellectual development disorders, diabetes, cancer, clinical and translational research, liver disease, and AIDS. Other areas where the College of Medicine is concentrating its efforts include developmental brain research, neuroscience, cardiac disease, and initiatives to reduce and eliminate ethnic and racial health disparities. Its partnership with Montefiore Medical Center, the University Hospital and academic medical center for Einstein, advances clinical and translational research to accelerate the pace at which new discoveries become the treatments and therapies that benefit patients. Through its extensive affiliation network involving Montefiore, Jacobi Medical Center -- Einstein's founding hospital, and three other hospital systems in the Bronx, Brooklyn and on Long Island, Einstein runs one of the largest residency and fellowship training programs in the medical and dental professions in the United States. For more information, please visit www.einstein.yu.edu, read our blog, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and view us on YouTube.

About Montefiore Health System

Montefiore is a premier academic health system and the University Hospital for Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Combining nationally-recognized clinical excellence with a population health perspective that focuses on the comprehensive needs of the communities it serves, Montefiore delivers coordinated, compassionate, science-driven care where, when and how patients need it most. Montefiore consists of eight hospitals and an extended care facility with a total of 2,747 beds, a School of Nursing, and state-of-the-art primary and specialty care provided through a network of more than 150 locations across the region, including the largest school health program in the nation and a home health program. The Children's Hospital at Montefiore is consistently named in U.S. News' "America's Best Children's Hospitals." Montefiore's partnership with Einstein advances clinical and translational research to accelerate the pace at which new discoveries become the treatments and therapies that benefit patients. The health system derives its inspiration for excellence from its patients and community, and continues to be on the frontlines of developing innovative approaches to care. For more information please visit http://www.montefiore.org. Follow us on Twitter; like us on Facebook; view us on YouTube.

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