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State awards $2.4 million for stem cell research center

Marie Cusick

Officials from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) cut the ribbon today on a brand new Stem Cell Research Center.

It's paid for through a $2.45 million grant from the New York State Stem Cell Science Program (NYSTEM) - a state agency dedicated to funding this kind of research.

New York sees a solid return on investment for its stem cell research funding statewide, according to state health commissioner Nirav Shah, because it attracts both private investment and federal dollars.

“We’ve committed to investing up to $50 million dollars a year, and we’ve invested approximately $200 million to date," said Shah. 

RPI President Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, explained that initially researchers won't use embryos, "the work here is beginning with pre-existing stem cell lines," she said.

Researchers will study how to use them in spinal cord injuries, as well as bone and muscle repair. The center will also be made available to other stem cell researchers, and RPI officials say they've already seen an interest from more than a dozen different groups.

"A lot of important work [will] come out of the stem cell research; and with that, potential new therapies," said Jackson.

Marie Cusick is the Innovation Trail Reporter for WMHT in Albany. Support for the Innovation Trail comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The Innovation Trail is a collaboration between five upstate public media outlets, reporting about New York's innovation economy.