RFA No. 0708160958
Harry Shamoon, M.D
Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Yeshiva University
Three core functions developed through the NYSTEM award will support stem cell research in diverse diseases, including hemophilia, anemia, heart disease, liver diseases and brain disorders. Additionally, research supported by the award will impact the science of developmental biology, cancer and aging research. A Cell Production Core will be created within the Einstein Center for Human Embryonic Stem Cell (hESC) Research. The core will provide hESCs and feeder cells to support research in the biology and applications of hESCs. Large-scale production of stem cells (100 million to one billion cells) is necessary for advancing research in these areas. An Epigenetics and Reprogramming Core will facilitate the use of new genetic technologies for stem cell research. The Core will support high-throughput technologies to characterize genetic changes in stem cells, including stem cells derived from reprogramming of mature cells (so-called induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS) and of differentiated cells generated from stem cells that can be used to learn more about cancer and inherited diseases. A Cell Transplantation Core will provide animal models for studying stem cells. To verify that stem cells can differentiate into multiple lineages, native or modified cells will be transplanted into animals followed by analyses at various intervals to establish that stem cells can indeed generate desired types of mature cells. Furthermore, these models will establish whether stem cells can repopulate organs and restore deficient functions.
John M. Tarbell, Ph.D.
City College of New York/CUNY
A group of faculty members from the Biomedical Engineering Department and the Sophie Davis Medical School at the City College of New York (CCNY) are either actively working on or planning work in several areas of stem cell research. Projects are under way using mouse embryonic stem cells or adult human mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow. Proposals to fund stem cell research have been submitted to the National Institutes of Health. Nevertheless, overall stem cell research at CCNY is in its infancy, and this Development Grant provides critical funds for training and core equipment that will move stem cell research at CCNY to the next level. Although faculty currently have the ability to conduct research related to stem cells, comprehensive training in core methods for individuals who conduct stem cell research will provide the foundation for development of long-term research capabilities using human embryonic stem cells at CCNY. Isolation and characterization of stem cells are the first critical steps in most stem cell research projects. A fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) system is essential equipment for stem cell characterization and isolation with high purity. Currently, the Biomedical Engineering Department, home of four faculty members participating in this proposal, has no FACS system. The funds from this NYSTEM Institutional Development Grant will provide a critical FACS machine to enhance the future of stem cell research at City College.
Supplements for Studies of the Molecular Mechanisms Regulating Stem Cells in Development, Neurogenesis and Cancer
David L. Spector, Ph.D.
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's stem cell research program takes a multi-pronged approach with a common goal: to determine the molecular mechanisms regulating stem cell activity. This research is important for the future development of stem cell-related therapies, as it is important to control therapy actions to ensure safety and effectiveness. Using animal, plant and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-approved human cell lines, CSHL investigators study how stem cells are controlled in cancer, the brain and in plant development. In cancer, this work involves identifying genes regulating stem cell activity and dissecting the signaling pathways controlling stem cell growth. CSHL neuroscientists examine how new neurons arise from stem cells in the adult brain and how this process is related to neurological conditions and mood disorders. Finally, using plants as a model system, researchers will address questions that are difficult to answer in other systems regarding molecular mechanisms regulating stem cell activity. Stem cell-directed therapy has the potential to become a powerful tool against many diseases. CSHL's program is committed to understanding the basic mechanisms regulating stem cells, which will facilitate the progress of developing these therapies. This is an emerging area at CSHL, and NYSTEM funding has provided the initial resources to enable its success.
Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, Ph.D.
Columbia University Morningside
The Columbia University Morningside NYSTEM-funded project is for an imaging core for stem cell research. This funding is used exclusively to purchase equipment: a two-photon/confocal microscopy system, an in vivo imaging system, microplate reader and automated histology facility and to create a state-of-the-art functional imaging facility within the Department of Biomedical Engineering. At the same time, the Comparative Proteomics Center at the Department of Biology will be expanded with the addition of a new high-resolution mass spectrometer. Under the direction of Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, 26 investigators from six Columbia University Morningside departments will benefit from these new research facilities. The goal is to move stem cell research from the 'flat biology' of Petri dishes to controllable three-dimensional models and to study in real time and with high fidelity the self-renewal and differentiation of stem cells. Researchers expect that they will have the capacity to develop entirely new research paradigms, new imaging strategies and new approaches to engineer human tissues that simply do not exist for stem cell research at this time.
FACS Core, Ultradeep Sequencing Core and Ultrasound-Guided Microinjection Core Facilities for Stem Cell Research
James E. Goldman, M.D., Ph.D.
Columbia University Medical Center
Columbia University Medical Center's stem cell research community ranges from those probing the basic mechanisms of stem cells to clinicians dealing directly with such devastating diseases as diabetes, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), cancer and others for which the potential of stem cell therapy is being explored. NYSTEM investments may accelerate the impact of fundamental discoveries on practical therapy. Ultimately, the goal is to use stem cells as a proxy to model and study human diseases, and as an unlimited source of cells for cell-based drug discovery and cell replacement therapy. To this end, the NYSTEM Institutional Development Award, together with matching funds from the Tow and Spitzer Foundations, is being used to create three core facilities: a Fluorescence-Activated Cell Sorting Core, an Ultradeep Sequencing Core and an Ultrasound-Guided Microinjection Core Facility. The facilities established with NYSTEM funds will enable tangible extension of stem cell research efforts by more than 60 investigators institution-wide.
Alexander Yu. Nikitin, M.D., Ph.D.
NYSTEM funding supports a number of investigators working in stem cell research at Cornell University, Ithaca. The main areas of research funded by NYSTEM include: deriving, maintaining and selectively differentiating embryonic and adult stem cells and reprogrammed pluripotent cells to recreate the temporal and spatial environment encountered in developing and adult tissues; and understanding the relevance of fundamental processes governing the control of stem cells to diseases such as cancer. NYSTEM funding has also accelerated development of a Cornell Stem Cell Program (http://stemcell.cornell.edu) and provided vital support for enhancement of stem cell-related core facilities. The main goals of the Cornell Stem Cell Program are to provide the necessary opportunities and structure for coordinating activities of investigators involved in stem cell research; to promote cross-campus interactions and enhance the existing platform for teaching and training in stem cell biology. With the help of NYSTEM funding, the program finances travel to stem cell meetings and conferences, supports seminar series featuring distinguished guest speakers and organizes an Annual Stem Cell Research Symposium. NYSTEM support has also allowed acquisition of equipment for analyzing and purifying rare stem cells in the body. This is a first step towards creating a Stem Cell Core that will provide essential services to numerous investigators throughout Cornell.
Ann S. Henderson, Ph.D.
Hunter College (CUNY)
Two projects at Hunter College benefit from NYSTEM funding. The first is carried out in the laboratory of Ben Ortiz and the second in the laboratory of Paul Feinstein. Both laboratories are housed in the Department of Biological Sciences. The Ortiz laboratory is investigating genes responsible for T-cell development and function and how they are regulated. T cells coordinate most immune responses, including those that fight disease and maintain health, as well as those that reject transplanted tissue and produce autoimmunity. A recent discovery has made it possible to obtain T cells from mouse embryonic stem cells. This discovery facilitates the study of how T cells develop and the regulation of genes that bring about that developmental process. These studies can lead to the engineering of "designer" T cells. Such cells could, for example, target tumor cells or resist HIV infection. The second study is focused on investigation of the amazing ability of embryonic stem (ES) cells to develop into any type of adult tissue. This attribute is important because human ES cells with this capacity could ultimately provide tissue replacement therapies. Tissue rejection, however, is a special problem since each individual would require "custom" ES cells. Understanding how to generate "custom" ES cells for each individual opens the door to ES cell-based therapies for curing genetically derived diseases.
Lorenz Studer, M.D.
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) has been a leader in stem cell biology research for many years and is active in many areas, including: hematopoietic and umbilical cord blood, mesenchymal, cancer, neural and embryonic stem cell research, as well as in fundamental aspects of differentiation and development. NYSTEM funds are supplementing seven ongoing research projects in these various areas to provide specialized training in the use of established hES cells and to obtain critical shared equipment for and support of core facilities. MSKCC is committed to continue its strong support for stem cell research at the institution by working together with private, federal and state institutions to leverage available resources and enable the next breakthroughs in stem cell biology.
Brian P. Currie, M.D., Ph.D.
Montefiore Medical Center
Montefiore Medical Center is committed to support stem cell and cellular therapeutics research. In collaboration with the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, the two institutions are dedicated to bring basic research advances into clinical practice. To that end, a new Cellular Therapeutics Facility is being constructed to meet the current good manufacturing practices (cGMP) requirements of the Food and Drug Administration. This facility will support development of clinical research projects that make use of various human adult stem cells, umbilical cord blood-derived stem cells and fetal human liver cells; it will be overseen by Dr. Ljiljana V. Vasovic, who has extensive experience in this arena and who will provide the bridge between the Cellular Therapeutics Facility and the Montefiore Medical Center Progenitor Cell Processing Laboratory. NYSTEM funds are being used to obtain specific equipment for use in this facility. The Cellular Therapeutics Facility represents the next stage of developing the capacity to translate stem cell research.
Ihor R. Lemischka, Ph.D.
Mount Sinai School of Medicine
The Black Family Stem Cell Institute at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine (MSSM) has established the goal of bringing the newest discoveries in the field of stem cell science into the arena of clinical medicine. MSSM has committed significant resources to facilitate this goal, including the complete renovation of 10,000 square feet of space designated to house five to six newly recruited stem cell faculty members. A central mission is to build interactions with the numerous outstanding clinical and translational research efforts already in existence at MSSM. A major vehicle for instituting such interaction is the existing human embryonic stem cell core facility. The differentiation of hES cells in culture into multiple lineages offers unprecedented opportunities to understand the earliest stages of human development, to generate differentiated cell types for future cell replacement therapies and open avenues to understanding the causes of complex diseases. The NYSTEM-supported projects involve investigation of methods for culture and efficient differentiation of hES cells and identification of gene products and pathways essential for the maintenance of the pluripotent, self-renewing state. These studies will also enable understanding and exploitation of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell technology.
Thomas H. Hintze, Ph.D.
New York Medical College
Two areas for use of NYSTEM funding were identified at New York Medical College. The first was supplemental funding to continue and enhance investigations of the identification of adult cardiac and coronary vascular stem cells in the human heart. A vascular progenitor cell and a cardiac progenitor cell have been identified (in the heart), and these appear to integrate into the adult mammalian myocardium, resulting in the formation of both new blood vessels and new cardiomyocytes. The vascular progenitor cells, when injected into the region distal to a critical coronary artery stenosis, organize into blood vessels, and preliminary data suggest that these new vessels deliver blood flow to the ischemic myocardium. These cells are being grown and will be available to the scientific community. The second use of NYSTEM funding has been to create a Translational Cardiac Stem Cell Core to facilitate the growth of stem cell biology and potentially therapeutics at this institution. To this end, two new faculty members with experience in cardiovascular stem cell biology have been hired. Space has been designated, and, through collaboration with Westchester Medical Center, equipment is being purchased and staff, students and fellows recruited. The Core is expected to be active by September 2008.
Contribution of Hippocampal Neurogenesis to the Action of Antidepressant Medications: From Mice to Men
Rene Hen, Ph.D.
New York Psychiatric Institute
Most antidepressants have a delayed onset of therapeutic efficacy. This delay has led to the neurotrophic hypothesis which postulates that, downstream of the increases in monoamines elicited by antidepressants, growth-related events such as dendritic remodeling and neurogenesis (i.e. generation of new neural cells from neural stem cells) take place in various limbic areas. Dr. Hen's laboratory has shown that mice lacking hippocampal neurogenesis no longer respond to the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) fluoxetine and the tricyclic desipramine in two chronic models of antidepressant response: the novelty-suppressed feeding test and the chronic unpredictable stress paradigm. These results suggest that hippocampal neurogenesis is required for the effects of antidepressants at least in these two animal models. The goal of this proposal is to further dissect this phenomenon in rodents and to extend our findings to humans. First, two new imaging strategies for neurogenesis (cerebral blood volume and magnetic resonance spectroscopy) will be validated in rodent models and then tested in depressed patients to determine whether these biomarkers are related or not to the antidepressant response. The studies at the New York Psychiatric Institute should considerably advance the understanding of the mechanisms of action of antidepressant medications and open new therapeutic avenues for the treatment of depression-related disorders.
Daniel L. Stein, Ph.D.
New York University
New York University (NYU) will use its NYSTEM grant to acquire powerful new sequencing technologies in order to advance research into the analysis of what makes stem cells different from other cells. The great potential of stem cells for regeneration therapy rests on their ability to produce many or all other kinds of cells in an organism. Thus, one major question to address is which genes (and other factors) make stem cells function differently from other cells. Previous technologies have relied on miniature "probes" to test for the presence of an active gene. However, this probe approach limits sensitivity and can miss certain genes. High-throughput sequencing technology indiscriminately samples the contents of cells and asks what is present, providing a more comprehensive view of stem cells and greater sensitivity, which allows detection of unique aspects of stem cells. NYU researchers will use high-throughput sequencing technology to analyze stem cells to ask how they are different on many different levels, including active genes, small regulatory RNAs and chromatin states of DNA. This new technology will be utilized by researchers working on a variety of different models, including animals, invertebrates and plants.
Ruth E. Lehmann, Ph.D.
New York University School of Medicine
New York University Langone Medical Center (NYULMC) will use the NYSTEM Institutional Development Award to supplement funding for work already underway in NYULMC's Kimmel Center for Stem Cell Biology, as well as to acquire state-of-the art equipment and create training programs to attract more researchers to the stem cell field. The funding from New York State will support research toward a better understanding of how stem cells renew themselves and how they interact with specific niches in the body. Funds will benefit nine research projects exploring: the genetic pathways that regulate cancer stem cells of the immune system; the regulation of neural stem cells as vehicles for neural regeneration; and identification and analysis of stem cells and progenitor cells of the intestine, prostate, heart and gonad. The grant will also make possible the purchase of a high-speed cell sorter to accurately purify the minute populations of stem cells on which such research is based.
Stewart Sell, M.D.
Ordway Research Institute
The possibility that breast cancer may derive from bone marrow-derived stem cells (BMDSCs) is being tested by transplantation of BMDSCs from transgenic male mice bearing a strong mammary cancer oncogene under the control of a mammary gland-specific promoter (MMTV) to lethally irradiated female recipients of the same inbred strain. If the BMDSCs migrate to the breast and, under the influence of the microenvironment of the breast tissue or by fusion with breast cells, express mammary epithelial phenotype, the mammary-specific promoter will be activated, the transgene expressed in the mammary epithelial cells and cancer will develop. The NYSTEM grant has allowed Ordway to finish a preliminary experiment in which breast cancer cells containing Y chromosomes (male cells) were seen in 1/8 of irradiated female recipients of transgenic male bone marrow. This tumor was diploid, suggesting transdifferentiaton of BMDSCs into breast epithelial cells. The laboratory is now preparing experiments to study conditions (increased circulation of BMDSCs, pregnancy, hormone treatment, etc.) that may increase the incidence of breast cancer arising from BMDSCs. The researchers also plan to determine whether breast cancer in the transgenic mice may be prevented by transplantation of normal bone marrow.
Kalle Levon, Ph.D.
Mechanical support by scaffolding is needed for stem cells to grow in a coordinated manner in vivo. Additionally, such scaffolding can be used to store and release growth factors and other chemicals pertinent to optimal cell differentiation and proliferation. NYSTEM funding will support an integrative program between Polymer Science and Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Bioinformatics at Polytechnic University, which provides investigators with the opportunity to participate in the interdiscplinary area of tissue engineering with expertise in polymer science. Just as nanofibers for biosensing and nanogel particles for drug delivery applications have been previously prepared, this expertise is now being combined for preparation of multifunctional 3D nanofiber/nanogel scaffolds with the possibility for dimensional control of the electrostatic behavior of the scaffold. PC12 cells in electrospun polymerfiber scaffold are an example. Polytechnic's collaborators include Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and SUNY at Stony Brook.
Michael W. Young, Ph.D.
The Rockefeller University
Stem cell-based therapies hold particular hope for treating cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, spinal cord injury and neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's disease. In addition, stem cell research is helping to advance understanding in areas such as blood disorders/sickle cell disease, birth defects and childhood developmental disorders, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS and hearing loss. These conditions are currently under study at The Rockefeller University (RU). Advanced instrumentation is essential for further development of RU stem cell programs, designed to accelerate research and open up new avenues in the rapidly growing field of stem cell biology. The NYSTEM Institutional Development award will advance the University's stem cell research capabilities through the purchase of a fluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS) and a multi-photon microscope, to be integrated into existing centers. Stem cell work is performed in more than a dozen of RU's 75 laboratories by scientists from a diverse range of disciplines and research areas, including cell and developmental biology, biochemistry, medical genetics, genomics, immunology, skin cell biology, infectious disease research, cancer biology and the neurosciences. Ongoing investigations are shedding new light on the basic mechanisms of stem cells. Enhanced cell sorting and imaging promise to bring these studies to fruition.
Andrei Gudkov, Ph.D., D.Sc.
Roswell Park Cancer Institute
Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) scientists and clinician-scientists strive to develop and improve cancer treatment through innovative translational research programs aimed at understanding, preventing and curing cancer. Multiple RPCI laboratories have long-standing research programs exploring the role of stem cells in the etiology and pathogenesis of cancer and in the recovery of the cancer patient from cancer therapy, and an equal number of laboratories are initiating programs that apply their expertise and models to further understanding of the complex role of stem cells in cancer. RPCI investigators are focused on the following areas of stem cell research in cancer: 1. developing new pharmacological agents for therapeutic targeting of stem cells, including protection and mobilization of benign stem cells and selective killing of cancer stem cells; 2. identification and characterization of cancer stem cells and identification of their contribution to recurrent cancer and metastatic cancer; and, 3. characterization of the role of tissue microenvironment in transformation and growth in tissue regeneration and stimulation of anti-cancer responses.
Kenneth M. Tramposch, Ph.D.
State University of New York at Buffalo
The centerpiece of the Stem Cell Program at the University at Buffalo (UB) is the program's physical workspace at the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences and positions a genomic research core and high performance computing center directly adjacent to a planned stem cell core facility. This unique environment allows researchers, scientists and clinicians from many backgrounds and specialties to combine their expertise in exploration of stem cells and their potential as therapies. The overarching vision of the program is the exploration of basic stem cell biology to provide the necessary foundation for developing treatments of major debilitating and life-threatening diseases affecting New Yorkers. Through an understanding of the role and function of stem cells in normal development and disease, UB researchers seek to capture and direct the innate capabilities of stem cells to treat diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular disease and many other conditions. SUNY at Buffalo believes that this collaborative research environment will support the translation of basic research to clinical care and, when coupled with investment in commercialization, will enhance the economy of New York.
Gladys Teitelman, Ph.D.
State University of New York Downstate Medical Center
Stem cell work is being pursued in several critical areas at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, with special emphasis on translational research into clinically relevant interventions. Embryonic stem cells are developed for use as therapy to replace cells lost during heart failure and in instances of muscle disorders. Another area of investigation is isolation, characterization and transplantation of blood-derived stem cells for treatment of cancers of the immune system. Research is also being pursued in diabetes. To this end, therapies are devised for the control of high blood glucose using recently discovered progenitors of insulin-producing cells present in adults. Finally, a group of neuroscientists is developing strategies to induce differentiation of embryonic stem cells into various neuronal types useful for transplantation into the brain and retina. These programs are now being actively developed and provide the basis for expansion of stem cell research at Downstate, a goal that will be facilitated by the funds provided for this purpose by the NYSTEM Institutional Development Grant.
Peter R. Brink, Ph.D.
State University of New York at Stony Brook
Stem cell-based therapeutics is a new and exciting research avenue that has great potential for clinical applicability. Stem cells represent an autologous or allogenic delivery system able to, in principle, deliver small molecules focally or systemically. This general tenet has been the driving force in Stony Brook's stem cell initiative. Stony Brook's projects include the use of stem cells to repair the heart and regenerate skin electrically. The stem cell group applies NYSTEM support in seven laboratories, where both adult stem cell and embryonic (approved lines) stem cell projects are being pursued. The group organizes seminar series and group research meetings to allow for better integration among stem cell laboratories on campus. Stony Brook has established collaborations with researchers at Columbia University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute as part of a newly initiated project on mechanical repair of the heart. The investigators are purchasing common-use equipment for cell culture and experimentation in the form of incubators and hoods and a confocal microscope to further strengthen intra-university ties.
Gerold Feuer, Ph.D.
State University of New York Upstate Medical University
The Center for Humanized Severe Combined Immunodeficient (HU-SCID) Mouse Models at SUNY Upstate Medical University is a unique facility and research unit created to foster interdisciplinary scholarship and research focused on developing and utilizing HU-SCID mice. These mice support development and maturation of a human immune system following inoculation of human stem cells. This is a novel animal model with the potential to become a broad platform for investigations of stem cell biology, as well as a novel model to study human viral infections and cancer stem cells. The focus of this highly specialized Center is to better understand disease pathogenesis and develop preclinical models to test novel anti-virals, vaccines and chemotherapeutic drugs. Upstate has used the NYSTEM Institutional Development Award to purchase an IVIS 200 whole-mouse imaging system. The IVIS 200 uses a specialized camera to detect both bioluminescent and fluorescent light signals emitted from stem cells implanted in SCID mice. The ability to quantify and localize human stem cell development within SCID mice using this bioluminescent imaging system is an important technological advance which will greatly accelerate experiments involving in vivo human stem cell maturation and development. Major advances in understanding human stem cell biology will arise from applying in vivo imaging to the studies underway at SUNY Upstate Medical University.
Troy D. Randall, Ph.D.
The Trudeau Institute
The Trudeau Institute operates programs in two areas of stem cell research. The first program is focused on determining the role of mesenchymal stem cells in generating and supporting niches in the lung that support local immune responses to pathogens like Mycobacterium tuberculosis and influenza virus. An important question in this area is whether the stromal cells in the lung are derived from circulating mesenchymal stem cells that come from the bone marrow or whether the stromal cells are formed by mesenchymal stem cells that reside in the lung itself. A second program is focused on understanding how hematopoietic stem cells generate fully functional T cells in aged individuals. Since aged individuals have well-demonstrated defects in T-cell responses and poor T-cell output, it is essential to understand how T cells are generated by aged stem cells and whether those "new" T-cells respond appropriately to vaccination or infection. The availability of supplemental funds from the NYSTEM program will allow Trudeau researchers to increase their efforts on both of these projects dramatically. Ultimately, the results from these projects will be used to design novel vaccination or therapeutic strategies that will prevent or reduce an individual's susceptibility to infectious disease.
David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D.
University of Rochester
The University of Rochester is home to more than 40 laboratories, in more than 10 different departments, engaged in multiple aspects of stem cell research. Areas of research pursued range from the most basic avenues of scientific discovery to the cutting edges of clinical translation. NYSTEM funding is being used to enable 18 of these laboratories to accelerate their research into a wide range of topics. Examples of research supported include: development of better treatments for cancer, spinal cord injury and fracture repair in the elderly; discovery of the basic general principles that underlie the normal function of stem and progenitor cells of multiple types and in multiple species; analysis of the effects of oxidative stress on a wide range of progenitor cell populations; and establishment of a high-throughput screening laboratory for discovery of pharmacological agents able to help in achieving many clinical and research goals. This funding has been dispersed under the guidance and auspices of the University of Rochester Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Institute, which links together the multiple stem cell laboratories across the campus.
Echocardiography and Stem Cell Physiology Core Facilities, Specialized Training Programs and Supplemental Funding for Stem Cell Research
Harry M. Lander, Ph.D.
Weill Medical College of Cornell University
Stem cell research at Weill Cornell Medical College mainly focuses on cancer biology, neurodegenerative disorders, lung disease and reproductive biology. The NYSTEM Institutional Development Grant allowed nine projects to receive supplemental funding to further programs studying: how normal cells become cancerous; how brain neurons develop and what happens to them in disease states such as Parkinson's or Alzheimer's; and how the vascular system responds to stimuli which lead to heart disease. In addition, the funds helped train a postdoctoral student studying the mechanism by which stem cells can be turned into neuronal cells in the brain. Finally, these funds also allowed two central core facilities to be established to help promote stem cell research. One core, the Echocardiography Core, allows analysis of mouse models of disease using sound waves (ultrasound). This technology allows following the development of the mouse over its lifetime. Another core, the Stem Cell Physiology Core, allows assessment of the health and normal function of neurons derived from embryonic stem cells that have been transplanted into a recipient mouse brain. The need for rigorous physiological characterization of neurons in brain models is critical for many projects studying disorders of the brain.