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New York State Stem Cell Science

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Funding Committee

Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H. (Chair), is the fifteenth New York State Commissioner of Health. His nomination by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo was confirmed by the State Senate on January 24, 2011, making him the first Indian-American to serve as State Commissioner of Health as well as the youngest person named to the post. An expert in the use of systems-based methods to improve patient outcomes, Dr. Shah has been a leading researcher in the use of large-scale clinical laboratories and electronic health records to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of care. He is a nationally recognized thought leader in the methods needed to transition to lower-cost, patient-centered health care for the 21st century. Before his government service, Dr. Shah was attending physician at Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan, associate investigator at the Geisinger Center for Health Research in central Pennsylvania, and assistant professor at the New York University School of Medicine in value and comparative effectiveness. Dr. Shah also has conducted research into advancing preventive care for patients with cardiovascular disease and improving cardiovascular disease surveillance and public health. A native of Buffalo, Dr. Shah is an honors graduate of Harvard College and received his medical degree and master's degree in public health from the Yale School of Medicine. He was a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at UCLA and a National Research Service Award Fellow at New York University. Dr. Shah is a fellow of American College of Physicians and the New York Academy of Medicine. He has served on the editorial boards of medical journals, has published more than 90 peer-reviewed articles, and has received more than $4.5 million in research funding. He is certified in internal medicine by the American Board of Internal Medicine.

Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D., is the Senior Vice President for Health Sciences at the University of Rochester and CEO of the Medical Center and Strong Health. Dr. Berk received his medical and doctoral degrees from the University of Rochester. He has served on the faculties of Harvard Medical School, Emory University, and the University of Washington. He previously was Chairman of Medicine (1999-2006) and Chief of the Cardiology Unit (1998-2003) at the University of Rochester. In addition, he was Director of the AB Cardiovascular Research Institute. Dr. Berk is a fellow of the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, and a member of the Association of American Physicians. Dr. Berk is past-president of the North American Vascular Biology Organization (NAVBO). He is Consulting Editor for Circulation and Circulation Research and is on the editorial boards of ATVB and the Journal of Clinical Investigation. He serves on the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), Stem Cell Clinical Trial Network and Gene and Cell-Based Therapies Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB). Dr. Berk has published more than 250 articles, chapters and books. His research interests include: molecular biology of renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system; regulation of endothelial cell function especially by shear stress; the role of oxidative stress in vascular injury biology and the genetic mechanisms of vascular remodeling.

Robin Anthony Elliott, M.A., has been Executive Director of the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, Inc. since October, 1996.  He has been active in development, communications and not-for-profit management in New York City for more than 35 years, serving as Vice President for Development and External Affairs at Teachers College, Columbia University (1988-95) and at Hunter College, The City University of New York (1982-88); as Deputy to the Chancellor for University Relations at the City University of New York (1979-82); and as Director of Information and Education for Planned Parenthood Federation of America (1971-79).  Mr. Elliott grew up in southern England and received his B.A. from Magdalen College, Oxford University and his M.A. in American Government and Politics from Columbia University. Avocationally, he is active in reproductive health and rights, including as Member of the Board of Directors of Advocates for Youth, a Washington-based organization he co-founded in 1980, and has served on the vestry of St. Michael’s Church on West 99th Street and the boards of directors of the St. Cecilia Chorus and Community Health Charities.  Until recently, he was Chair of New Yorkers for the Advancement of Medical Research, a pro-stem cell research coalition of disease advocacy groups, scientists and universities and citizens’ groups. 

David C. Hohn, M.D., is President Emeritus and Executive Director of Health Policy at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI), where he served for 10 years as President and CEO. Dr. Hohn continues his national leadership role in health policy issues, especially as they relate to cancer research and treatment and training the next generation of cancer specialists. During his tenure as RPCI President, Dr. Hohn was widely credited with re-establishing the Institute as a leader in the national cancer community. He implemented the Institute’s first strategic plan focused on making RPCI internationally and nationally competitive in cancer science; led the restructuring of RPCI as a public benefit corporation; stabilized funding and increased revenue; recruited over 160 senior leadership faculty, top-tier clinicians and scientists; completed the $250 million renovation and rebuilding of the Institute campus; and implemented an innovative managed care strategy which opened regional access to RPCI. As Principal Investigator of the National Cancer Institute Cancer’s Center Support Grant, Dr. Hohn led the successful renewal of Roswell Park’s designation as a comprehensive cancer center – a designation the Institute has held continuously since 1974. Dr. Hohn came to RPCI from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center where, as Vice President for Patient Care from 1993 to 1997, his responsibilities included oversight of all clinical departments, clinical research programs and the protocol office.

Allen M. Spiegel, M.D., has been Dean of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University since June 1, 2006. Prior to joining Einstein, he was Director of the National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive Diseases & Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). A member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Spiegel earned his bachelor's degree from Columbia University in 1967. He received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 1971 and completed his clinical training at Massachusetts General Hospital. He began his career at the NIH in 1973 as a Clinical Associate in its Endocrinology Training program, and then served as a Senior Investigator in the Metabolic Disease Branch. In 1985 he was appointed Chief of Molecular Pathophysiology, and then Chief of the Metabolic Diseases Branch. In 1990, he was appointed Director of the NIDDK's Division of Intramural Research, and in 1999, Director of the NIDDK with a staff of 625 full-time employees and a $1.7 billion budget. Dr. Spiegel is a widely renowned physician-scientist and endocrinologist with extensive experience in translational research programs. His research has centered on G-protein-regulated signaling dysfunction in human disease, and his work on signal transduction helped to clarify the genetic basis of several endocrine diseases. He has published more than 250 peer-reviewed papers and 100 reviews, as well as two books on G proteins.

Melissa Wasserstein, M.D., is an Associate Professor of Genetics and Genomic Sciences and Pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She is the Director of the Program for Inherited Metabolic Diseases at Mount Sinai Medical Center and the Medical Director of the International Center for Types A and B Niemann Pick Disease. Dr. Wasserstein received her B.S. in biology from Cornell University and her medical degree from New York University School of Medicine, followed by a pediatrics residency and medical genetics fellowship at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. She is an NIH funded clinical investigator whose research focuses on expanding newborn screening for rare inherited disorders, developing long term follow up programs to optimize analysis and sharing of data, and evaluating novel ethical, legal and social implications of newborn screening. In addition, she is the principal investigator for several clinical trials evaluating the safety and effectiveness of new treatments for patients with inborn errors of metabolism. Dr. Wasserstein is a member of Mount Sinai’s Institutional Review Board and GCRC Scientific Advisory Committee. She also serves on the Executive Committee of the Newborn Screening Translational Network, the NIGMS Human Genetic Cell Repository Scientific Advisory Committee, and the Lysosomal Storage Disease LTFU Committee of the Newborn Screening Translational Network. 

Madelyn Wils is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Hudson River Park Trust. Prior to joining Hudson River Park Trust, Ms. Wils she served as the Executive Vice President of the Planning, Development and Maritime Division of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), where her portfolio included over 100 complex projects such as the redevelopment of Willets Point, Coney Island, East River Esplanade and Hunters Point South. Prior to joining NYCEDC, Ms. Wils served as President of the Tribeca Film Institute where she managed the expansion of the organization, from programming a 10-day film festival into a diverse institution offering year-round cultural and educational events. From 2000 to 2005, she served as Chair of Community Board One in Lower Manhattan, where she played an integral role in the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan. Ms. Wils led the development of the Master Concept Plan for the East River Waterfront, and was awarded The Visionary Award from the New York League of Conservation Voters for her efforts. She negotiated significant capital projects for her community, including new schools and parks, community facilities, Little League fields and a library in Battery Park City. Ms. Wils was a founding board member of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and The Hudson River Park Trust.