• Press Release

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and The Advanced Science Research Center at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York Launch Inter-Institutional Glial Biology Initiative

Multidisciplinary initiative is the first of its kind in New York City

  • New York, NY
  • (June 27, 2017)

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) and the Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC) at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY) have announced the creation of an Inter-Institutional Glial Biology Initiative, a collaboration designed to catalyze and strengthen scientific interaction and create a multidisciplinary research and clinical program focused on glial biology between the two institutions.

The complexity of brain function relies on networks of many billions of cells communicating via transmission of electrochemical signals, metabolite exchanges, and communication with blood vessels. The function of glial cells, which outnumber neurons, is only beginning to be addressed. Traditionally viewed as “support cells,” glial cells have begun to take the stage as intriguing sensors of the environment and as major players in disease mechanisms.

The Inter-Institutional Glial Biology Initiative, the first of its kind in New York City, will focus on the study of glial cell development and function. Investigators from both institutions will collaborate to foster the growth of robust research programs while sharing ideas, resources, and core facilities at both institutions.

“This partnership—scientific discovery led by world-class researchers leveraging outstanding facilities—is an exciting development for neuroscience research,” said Joy Connolly, Provost and Senior Vice President at the Graduate Center of CUNY. “The collaborations this agreement makes possible will advance the important work currently being undertaken independently by the teams at CUNY and Mount Sinai. Efforts such as these help us fulfill our commitment to do great science for the public good.”

The partnership brings together two institutions that are leading the way in modern scientific research.

“We are delighted to launch this joint initiative to capture the many synergies between our two institutions focused on the essential role played by glial cells in health and disease,” said Eric J. Nestler, MD, PhD, Nash Family Professor of Neuroscience and Dean for Academic and Scientific Affairs at ISMMS. “We believe that a greater understanding of the brain and insight into fundamentally new approaches to treatment will result from this novel affiliation.”

ISMMS is an international leader in medical and scientific training, biomedical research, and patient care. It is the medical school for the Mount Sinai Health System, an integrated health care system which includes seven hospitals and an expanding ambulatory network serving approximately 3.7 million patients per year. The School has more than 1,800 students in MD, PhD, and Master’s programs and post-doctoral fellowships; more than 5,600 faculty members; over 2,000 residents and fellows; and 36 clinical and research institutes. The ASRC is the scientific research hub of the CUNY system, providing cutting-edge research tools necessary to push the limits of scientific exploration. CUNY, the largest urban university system in the United States, serves more than 270,000 students, including the 4,100 graduate students enrolled in 30-plus doctoral degree programs at the Graduate Center.

The new initiative will be led by Patrizia Casaccia, MD, PhD, Director of the ASRC Neuroscience Initiative at the Graduate Center of CUNY and an internationally-recognized scientist focused on myelin and oligodendrocyte biology and Anne Schaefer, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Neuroscience and Psychiatry at ISMMS and an outstanding scientist in microglia biology.

“Thanks to the cutting-edge instrumentation that is being installed at the ASRC, including our MRI, Epigenetics and Live Imaging Facilities, and the considerable resources and expertise available at Mount Sinai, investigators at both institutions will only be limited by their imaginations,” said Dr. Casaccia.

About the Mount Sinai Health System

Mount Sinai Health System is one of the largest academic medical systems in the New York metro area, with more than 43,000 employees working across eight hospitals, over 400 outpatient practices, nearly 300 labs, a school of nursing, and a leading school of medicine and graduate education. Mount Sinai advances health for all people, everywhere, by taking on the most complex health care challenges of our time — discovering and applying new scientific learning and knowledge; developing safer, more effective treatments; educating the next generation of medical leaders and innovators; and supporting local communities by delivering high-quality care to all who need it.

Through the integration of its hospitals, labs, and schools, Mount Sinai offers comprehensive health care solutions from birth through geriatrics, leveraging innovative approaches such as artificial intelligence and informatics while keeping patients’ medical and emotional needs at the center of all treatment. The Health System includes approximately 7,300 primary and specialty care physicians; 13 joint-venture outpatient surgery centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and more than 30 affiliated community health centers. We are consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report's Best Hospitals, receiving high "Honor Roll" status, and are highly ranked: No. 1 in Geriatrics and top 20 in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Neurology/Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, Pulmonology/Lung Surgery, Rehabilitation, and Urology. New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked No. 12 in Ophthalmology. U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Children’s Hospitals” ranks Mount Sinai Kravis Children's Hospital among the country’s best in several pediatric specialties.

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