NYSCF - Robertson Neuroscience Investigator Dr. Paola Arlotta, Harvard Stem Cell Institute and the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, showed that neuronal networks of communication between reprogrammed neurons and the surrounding cells can be changed. Essentially, that the neighboring cells of reprogrammed neurons recognize that they are changed, and therefore change how they communicate with the 'new' cells. This work, published in Neuron, builds on Dr. Arlotta's previous finding that neurons can be reprogrammed into different neuronal types in the brains of live animals, a result that upended traditional neurobiology dogma.
This research has vast implications on understanding how neural communication works and builds circuits in early development as well as how this communication frays and deteriorates in neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases such as autism and schizophrenia.
This October, NYSCF honored Stephen M. Ross, Jack and Jeff Gernsheimer, and Mark McCauley as stem cell heroes at the 10th Anniversary Gala. Held at Skylight at Moynihan Station, the annual Gala brought together NYSCF friends, scientists, and supporters to celebrate the past 10 years of success and to look forward to the next ten years and beyond.
In 2011 NYSCF awarded Dr. Pete Coffey the inaugural NYSCF–Robertson Stem Cell Prize for his pioneering work bringing stem cell therapies to patients with macular degeneration. Now patients in the UK can begin to realize the promises of regenerative medicine as treatments move into the clinic. Dr. Pete Coffey co-leads The London Project to Cure Blindness, which, with NYSCF support, has begun to translate stem cell research into cures. Announced in September, the first patient received treatment for ‘wet’ age-related macular degeneration. The researchers behind the clinical trial used stem cells to create a patch of eye cells, retinal pigment epithelium, to transplant into patients with diseased retinal pigment epithelium. Thus far, the patient remains healthy boding well for this clinical trial to confirm safety and efficacy.
As part of CUNY’s ongoing Women in Science series, NYSCF CEO and Co-founder Susan L. Solomon was asked to speak at “Breaking Barriers to Success,” a panel discussion on how women make their way to the top of their fields. Solomon sat across other pioneering women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) outside of academia: Tracy Day, CEO and Co-founder of World Science Festival, and Reshma Saujani, CEO and Founder of Girls Who Code. The event series organized by CUNY’s Advanced Science Research Center aspires to help women develop professionally and build a community of women scientists.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) invited Susan Solomon to chair and moderate a panel at September’s NIH Workshop on Reproducibility in Cell Culture Studies. The panel, within the “Emerging Challenges and Opportunities” session of the workshop focused on the difficulties of stem cells and engineered environments. Solomon explored the challenges of modeling diseases in a dish and approaches that NYSCF has taken to develop reproducible stem cell culture studies. Among conversations about guidelines for stem cell production and maintenance, genetic diversity represented by stem cells, and current biotechnology, the panel discussed how the NYSCF Global Stem Cell ArrayTM responds to the issues of reproducibility in the field by automating the production of stem cells to reduce human error and standardize the production of stem cells, increasing reproducibility of stem cell research. Dr. Scott Noggle, NYSCF Vice President of Stem Cell Research also participated on several other panels discussing various issues related to cell culture reproducibility.
Dr. Gary Gibson, Director of the Laboratory for Mitochondrial Biology and Metabolic Dysfunction in Neurodegeneration at Weill Cornell Medical College, joined NYSCF as a visiting scientist while on sabbatical this year. Dr. Gibson’s work focuses on age-related neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The Wall Street Journal highlighted his recent research, which finds a connection between vitamin B1 deficits and Alzheimer’s disease.
This work is currently being tested in a clinical trial, administering a synthetic version of vitamin B1 to Alzheimer’s patients and analyzing the results. At NYSCF he will translate his work to stem cells to further elucidate the mechanisms of neurodegeneration.