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Governor Spitzer Announces Appointments to Empire State Stem Cell Board

Board to Oversee $600 Million in Funding for Stem Cell Research

Governor Eliot Spitzer today named 11 appointees to serve on the committees that form the Empire State Stem Cell Board. The Board was established to oversee and administer $600 million in funding for the Empire State Stem Cell Trust Fund to promote stem cell research and development.

“The Empire State Stem Cell Trust Fund propels New York State forward in the search for scientific knowledge and advancement, and will enable the world-class academic, research, medical and scientific institutions located here to reach their full potential,” said Governor Spitzer. “The individuals that we are nominating to the Empire Stem Cell Board will help bring thoughtful leadership, scientific expertise, and ethical considerations to the advancement of stem cell research.”

The 2007-2008 Enacted Budget includes an initial appropriation of $100 million and an additional $500 million is provided at $50 million per year for ten years beginning in April 2008. The Fund will make grants for basic, applied, translational and other research that advances scientific discoveries in fields related to stem cell biology. No grants are allowed for any research involving human reproductive cloning.

Lieutenant Governor David A. Paterson said: “New York is responding to the urgent need for a state-sponsored, fully-funded stem cell research program. The appointed members of the Empire State Stem Cell Board represent the best leadership our State has to offer in the stem cell research field. This board will execute our stem cell research program with the highest moral, ethical, and scientific standards. It will play a key role in advancing medical science, bringing hope to people suffering a range of debilitating illnesses. I am proud that we are able to deliver our stem cell program to the people of this state, and I am personally committed to seeing its full, successful implementation. ”

Commissioner of Health Robert Daines said: “Biomedical research holds great promise for the presentation and treatment of the most devastating diseases and health conditions. Governor Spitzer and Lieutenant Governor Paterson's support for this initiative will position New York as a leader in stem cell research, and will expand the number of New York scientists contributing to this promising field. The caliber of the Empire State Stem Cell Board members is outstanding, and we look forward to working with them.”

The Board includes two committees – the Funding Committee and Ethics Committee – each consisting of 13 members. The Stem Cell Board will be chaired by the Commissioner of Health, Richard F. Daines, M.D. who will also act as a member on each committee. Twelve members are appointed by the Governor with six of those members recommended by legislative leaders. The Funding Committee will make recommendations for the awarding of grants to the Commissioner of Health based upon the analysis and recommendations of an independent scientific peer review process. The Ethics Committee will make recommendations regarding scientific, medical and ethical standards.

The Governor’s appointees include:

Funding Committee

  • Kenneth Adams, New York State Business Council
  • Robin Elliott, New Yorkers for the Advancement of Medical Research
  • Gerald Fischbach, M.D., Columbia University
  • David Hohn, M.D., Roswell Park Cancer Institute
  • Harold Varmus, M.D., Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Ethics Committee

  • Samuel Gorovitz, Ph.D., Syracuse University
  • David Hohn, M.D., Roswell Park Cancer Institute
  • Robert Klitzman, M.D., Columbia University
  • H. Hugh Maynard-Reid, D.Min, North Brooklyn Health Network
  • Tia Powell, M.D., New York State Task Force on Life & the Law
  • Robert Swidler, Esq., Northeast Health


Susan Solomon, President and CEO of The New York Stem Cell Foundation, said: "The New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) applauds Governor Spitzer and Lt. Governor Paterson for taking the next step in making New York State the epicenter of stem cell research in the United States. NYSCF, along with the patients, disease advocacy groups, and research institutions of New York are grateful for this visionary legislation and look forward to being wise stewards of this new source of funding for stem cell research."

Robin Anthony Elliott, Chair of New Yorkers for the Advancement of Medical Research (NYAMR), said: "The Empire State stem-cell research program gives hope to patients, support for great science, and a vote of confidence in the richness of research resources throughout the great State of New York. On behalf of the 46 member agencies of NYAMR, I congratulate the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor and the leaders of the Legislature for this act of statesmanship and pledge our resources to help build and sustain this great initiative."

Ross A. Frommer, Associate Dean for Government and Community Affairs at Columbia University Medical Center said: "I congratulate and thank Governor Eliot Spitzer and Lt. Governor David Paterson for moving forward expeditiously with the work of the Empire State Stem Cell Board. Creation of the Board and the $100 million included in the budget for stem cell research clearly demonstrates New York's commitment to this exciting field. I am of course delighted to note that the Governor and Lt. Governor saw fit to choose Gerald Fischbach for the Board. Dr. Fischbach is Dean Emeritus at Columbia University Medical and one of the leaders in the stem cell research field.”

Dr. Mark Noble, Professor of Genetics/Neurobiology & Anatomy at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said: "This is a wonderful opportunity to enable the outstanding community of stem cell scientists in New York State to greatly accelerate the pace, and to bring both clinical and economic benefit across the state. Stem cell medicine offers enormous opportunities to treat diseases that cause great suffering and are associated with great economic costs and to understand the basis for developmental maladies that affect millions of children and rob them of their full developmental potential. As a stem cell scientist, I applaud this initiative."

Dr. Dennis S. Charney, Dean of Mount Sinai School Of Medicine, said: “Today's announcement is a positive step in the advancement of medical research and for all New Yorkers. New York's commitment to provide needed funding for stem cell research will result in improved health, cures to devastating disease and will keep New York the research hub of the world. Stem cell research at the Mount Sinai Black Family Stem Cell Institute will be greatly enhanced with state support.”

Robb Smith, Executive Director of the Interfaith Impact of New York State, said: "The clergy, congregations, and other members of Interfaith IMPACT of New York State congratulate Governor Eliot Spitzer, Lieutenant Governor David Paterson and the New York State Legislature for including funds for stem cell research in our state budget. You bring hope and comfort to many thousands of New Yorkers who may benefit from this research."

Rabbi Dennis Ross, Director of Concerned Clergy for Choice, said: “ We applaud the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor as they take this important step to ensure New York remains a leader in medical research and innovation.”

Bill Galvin, President and CEO of Community Health Charities of New York, said: "New Yorkers and all Americans who are affected by devastating diseases, disorders and disabilities need to be assured that the required medical research will remain in NYS and research advancements will continue to push forward to identify the causes and cures for those affected. The Empire State Stem-Cell Research Board will be important in enabling prominent researchers to stay in New York.”

Lewis P. Rowland, President of the Parkinson's Disease Foundation, said: “As an advocate for people living with Parkinson’s disease and as a longtime supporter of great science, the Parkinson's Disease Foundation applauds this initiative of the State of New York to discover the potential of stem-cell research.”

Jim Horbowicz, past Chairman of the Board of the American Diabetes Association, said: "With every day, the terrible impact of diabetes grows across our state. The appointment of the stem cell board ushers in an exciting new era of disease research, providing New Yorkers with a renewed sense of hope."

Robin Gelburd of Academic Medicine Development Company (AMDeC) - a consortium of New York State's academic medical centers, schools and hospitals - said: "AMDeC applauds the passage of the Empire State Stem Cell Funding Program as a critical step in fortifying and enhancing the state’s infrastructure and talent pool in connection with stem cell research. This bold state program will help New York State remain at the forefront scientifically in this promising area of discovery as well as buttress economically the state’s biotechnology sector.”

Suzanne Cohen, Executive Director of DebRA of America, said: "On behalf of people with Epidermolysis Bullosa in New York State, DebRA of America knows that the Empire State Stem-Cell Research Program is essential to open new avenues to treatments and a cure."

Sally Temple, NY Neural Stem Cell Institute, said: "The promise of stem cell research for biomedical advances is now within reach for New Yorkers. We at NYNSCI are excited to participate in this outstanding opportunity to advance stem cell research for nervous system diseases and disorders."

Source Date: Jul 26 2007
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