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NIH awards $9.5 million for Einstein-Mount Sinai Diabetes Research Center

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Jeffrey Pessin, Ph.D., Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Center establishes new cross-institutional immuno-technology core

uly 27, 2020–(BRONX, NY)Albert Einstein College of Medicine has received a $9.5 million, five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support the Einstein-Mount Sinai Diabetes Research Center (ES-DRC). The multi-institutional center is a leader in basic, translational, clinical, and community-based research and training in type 1 and type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other metabolic disorders.

Einstein first established its diabetes center in 1976 and has long focused its efforts on minority and other underserved populations in the Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester county, and across New York City. Five years ago, it expanded into a regional collaborative, partnering with Mount Sinai to increase its capacity to support research studies and services. Today, ES-DRC faculty members include more than 140 scientists and clinicians at Einstein and Montefiore Health System, Mount Sinai, Cornell University, Weill Cornell Medical College, NYU Langone Medical Center, Stony Brook University, New York Medical College, and Rutgers University.

“Our robust research enterprise is home to highly productive investigators, who together hold more than $90 million in grant funding,” said Jeffrey Pessin, Ph.D., the Judy R. and Alfred A. Rosenberg Professorial Chair in Diabetes Research at Einstein and principal investigator on the grant. “With the center’s shared resources, they are pursuing a range of innovative projects–from developing immunotherapeutics to prevent the onset of type 1 diabetes to creating and testing an intermittent fasting diet to treat obesity and type 2 diabetes.”

Typically, institutions support their own facilities and collaborators tap into each other’s resources. Dr. Pessin noted that the latest ES-DRC renewal grant funds a new shared Immuno-Technology Core(ITC)–a first for the regional center.

“Our ties to Mount Sinai have become stronger over the past five years,” said Dr. Pessin. “We’ve increased our cross-disciplinary research and saw an opportunity for greater resource sharing. This new core leverages our individual expertise and state-of-the-art technologies to provide new opportunities for investigators pursuing specific, targeted therapies for diabetes.”

“The ES-DRC is one of only 16 NIH DRCs awarded in the entire country,” said Andrew Stewart, M.D., associate director of the ES-DRC, director of the Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and the Irene and Dr. Arthur M. Fishberg Professor of Medicine in the department of endocrinology, diabetes, and bone disease at Mount Sinai. “It has provided a major boost to basic science and clinical diabetes and obesity research and training efforts at both Mount Sinai, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and multiple other medical schools in the greater NYC region. The Einstein team has been an extraordinary scientific partner.”

Among one of the newer technology platforms in the ITC is synTac, short for Synapse for T-Cell Activation, that was developed by Steven Almo, Ph.D. , professor and chair of biochemistry and professor of physiology & biophysics at Einstein.

“This technology can be used to activate or suppress immune responses,” said Dr. Pessin. “The ITC will include use of the synTac platform for studies on type 1 diabetes, high-resolution imaging, and powerful analytic tools to probe cell populations and tissue samples as we seek to discover new therapeutics that can be tested in future clinical trials.”

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The ITC will be co-directed by Teresa DiLorenzo, Ph.D., professor of microbiology & immunology and of medicine at Einstein, and Dirk Homann, M.D., professor of medicine at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

The grant, titled “Einstein-Mount Sinai Diabetes Research Center,” was awarded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, part of the NIH (2P30DK020541-45). The ES-DRC also receives support from the New York Obesity Research Center (NYORC), the Center for the Study of Diabetic Complications, and the Montefiore Clinical Diabetes Center.

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