Mount Sinai Launches Institute for Regenerative Medicine

Mount Sinai’s establishment of a regenerative-medicine-focused outpost follows similar moves by major universities. (Mount Sinai Hospital)

Regenerative medicine—the process of replacing, engineering or regenerating human cells, tissues or organs—holds exciting potential for the field of health care. It could someday make it possible to grow a new kidney in a petri dish, repair damaged nerve cells, or reverse memory loss.

Continuing a commitment to advance medicine through forward-thinking approaches and groundbreaking discoveries, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is announcing the creation of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine to foster innovative research into new pathways to cure a host of diseases from leukemia to Alzheimer’s disease, breast cancer, and airway diseases—with the promise of improving medical care, quality of life, and longevity for all patients.

The Institute will advance and coordinate research and training in broad areas of regenerative biology and medicine across the basic science and clinical departments at Mount Sinai, and will encompass three centers that each focus on a subset of diseases and disorders. The Institute will include the Alper Center for Neural Development and Regeneration, the Center for Epithelial and Airway Biology and Regeneration, and the Center for Advancement of Blood Cancer Therapies.

“The Institute for Regenerative Medicine is dedicated to making transformations in how we treat regenerative diseases that impact millions of lives,” said Dennis S. Charney, MD, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of Icahn Mount Sinai and President for Academic Affairs of the Mount Sinai Health System. “Clinicians, scientists, and researchers from across Mount Sinai will continue to leverage expertise and discoveries in human biology and regenerative medicine, rapidly translating our findings to improve care and treatment for some of the most crippling developmental and degenerative conditions that impact our patients.”

Alper Center for Neural Development and Regeneration

Researchers, scientists, and clinicians at the Alper Center for Neural Development and Regeneration, which is co-sponsored by The Friedman Brain Institute, are expanding our knowledge and understanding of the brain, its development, and its role in disease. By using innovative research techniques including cell cultures, animal models, and human tissue studies, the scientists are seeking new insights into the workings of the nervous system, identifying new ways to prevent and treat brain disorders—and ultimately transforming the field of regenerative medicine for these devastating illnesses.

“The future of regenerative medicine for brain disorders lies in understanding how the brain develops and maintains itself throughout life,” said the Center’s Director, Nan Yang, PhD, Associate Professor of Neuroscience at Icahn Mount Sinai. “Our goal is to advance research on models of human disease and identify new preventive and therapeutic strategies that can lead to cures or relief for conditions such as neurodevelopmental disorders and neurodegeneration including autism, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and multiple sclerosis.”

Center for Epithelial and Airway Biology and Regeneration

The Center for Epithelial and Airway Biology and Regeneration, co-sponsored by the Institute for Airway Science, is fostering collaboration among scientists who treat diseases of epithelial tissues including the skin, lung, trachea, oral cavity, breast, liver, stomach, intestine, and esophagus. These conditions include sinus disorders, lung injury, tracheal and lung transplants, breast cancers, severe asthma, eczema, psoriasis, and hair loss. The scientists will advance research related to epithelial development, stem cells, regeneration, and disease. The Center will also offer pilot grant funding for innovative and collaborative research projects, and provide a formal ground for basic, translational, and clinical researchers to collaborate and promote their study findings for application in clinical settings.

“The Center for Epithelial and Airway Biology and Regeneration defines translational research. This unique cross-section of basic and clinical scientists provides a platform to tackle vexing clinical problems and offer real solutions,” said the Center’s Clinical Director, Eric Genden, MD, Isidore Friesner Professor and Chair of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery for the Mount Sinai Health System and Icahn Mount Sinai. “The Center promises to bring basic scientific discovery to the patient bedside and promote novel therapies for the benefit of our patients.” The Scientific Directors of the Center are Ya-Wen Chen, PhD, Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology and Cell, Developmental and Regenerative Biology, and Elena Ezhkova, PhD, Professor of Cell, Developmental and Regenerative Biology and Dermatology.

Center for Advancement of Blood Cancer Therapies

The Center for Advancement of Blood Cancer Therapies, co-sponsored by The Tisch Cancer Institute, is dedicated to the study of childhood and adult blood cancers and the development of new treatments, including conventional drugs and cell therapies. Of particular focus are human models of hematopoiesis and leukemia based on induced pluripotent stem cells and primary blood cells, combined with gene editing and single-cell technologies.

“This new Center brings together investigators with a commitment to blood research that directly aims to uncover mechanisms of human blood diseases such as adult and pediatric leukemias and myelodysplastic syndrome, and develop new therapeutics,” said Eirini Papapetrou, MD, PhD, Director of the Center for Advancement of Blood Cancer Therapies and Professor of Oncological Sciences at The Tisch Cancer Institute, a part of the Tisch Cancer Center at Mount Sinai. “Our researchers will capitalize on recent breakthroughs that have transformed the capabilities of experimentation with human cells, and the Center will foster close relationships between researchers and clinicians. We will continually identify new areas of synergy and encourage these interactions towards clinical translation of new findings emerging from labs affiliated with the Center.”

The Institute for Regenerative Medicine will also now house the Black Family Stem Cell Institute, founded at Mount Sinai in 2005 to integrate research in embryonic stem cells and adult stem cell biology. It will continue to promote research in stem cell biology to accelerate translation that improves care for patients in clinical settings, such as development of new drugs and cell-based therapies that are tested for safety and efficacy. Sarah E. Millar, PhD, who leads the Black Family Stem Cell Institute, will serve as the Director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

“The broader platform of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine will enable us to expand research beyond stem cell-based therapies to other aspects of regenerative medicine including ex vivo development of human tissues for disease modeling, drug screening, and transplantation; approaches to prevent and treat neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases; new methods to promote regeneration of epithelial tissues such as skin, hair and lung; and blood cancer research,” said Dr. Millar, Senior Associate Dean for Basic Research and Lillian and Henry M. Stratton Professorial Chair of Cell, Developmental and Regenerative Biology at Icahn Mount Sinai. “Our aim is to accelerate innovation by integrating and synergizing these efforts across Mount Sinai’s campus and by providing an exciting, welcoming, diverse, and inclusive intellectual environment.”

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