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  • $11 Million NIH Grant for Stem Cell Research Awarded to Rhode Island Hospital

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    $11 Million NIH Grant for Stem Cell Research Awarded to Rhode Island Hospital

    Rhode Island Hospital has received an $11 million grant that will fund research that will lead to a general understanding of stem cell biology and identify unique approaches to tissue regeneration in lung and marrow diseases. The 5-year grant, awarded to Peter Quesenberry, MD, director of hematology/oncology at Rhode Island Hospital, also provides funding for the development of a major stem cell research center at Rhode Island Hospital. It is a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) grant from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

    The grant will allow Quesenberry and investigators at Rhode Island Hospital to focus their research efforts on determining the true phenotype (what the cells actually looks like as a result of their interaction with their environment) of marrow stem cells and their fate as tissue. The researchers' goal is to translate basic stem cell studies into clinical trials on tissue restoration or correction in patients with chronic obstructive lung disease and malignant blood diseases. Through the grant they will study how the phenotype information is transferred via microvesicles from injured tissue. They will then define the mechanisms by which the cells are differentiated.

    Quesenberry, who is also a physician with the University Medicine Foundation, says, “The beauty of the COBRE grant is not only will it allow us to develop a stem cell research center at Rhode Island Hospital, but it will also help us to assemble a group of outstanding, talented investigators who excel in these areas.” He adds, “Those investigators can then serve as mentors to young, up-and-coming researchers, who we can recruit and then retain right here at this research center.” Their research will be conducted in a new 10,000 square foot lab in the Coro building, where Rhode Island Hospital has established other major research labs.

    Senator Jack Reed commented on the hospital's grant. “Rhode Island Hospital is nationally renowned for pioneering efforts in stem cell research. This federal award will allow the hospital to expand and enhance existing research initiatives and help attract more talented researchers and promising young scientists to the state,” said Reed, a member of the Appropriations subcommittee, which oversees federal funding for NIH programs. Reed wrote a letter in support of Rhode Island Hospital's application earlier this spring.
    Congressman Jim Langevin also said, “I have long believed that stem cell research will help change the direction of medicine for the better,” said Langevin. “I congratulate Dr. Quesenberry and the entire Rhode Island Hospital research community for securing this prestigious award. Grants such as this will drive both scientific innovation and economic development in our state. I look forward to following this study and learning about its outcomes.”
    The work in the stem cell research center will also include general stem cell biology. An experienced group of scientists will be mentoring three promising young investigators, and potentially more in three specific studies. Quesenberry, who also holds the Paul Calabresi, MD, professorship in oncology and is director of the division of Hematology/Oncology at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, comments further, “This grant holds real promise for expanding our understanding of stem cell biology. We appreciate the support of the National Center for Research Resources.”

    Peter Snyder, PhD, Lifespan's vice president of research, says, “A grant of this magnitude is especially welcome during these difficult economic times and is a definite boon for the research sector of our state. Dr. Quesenberry is already a renowned scientist, and this grant will undoubtedly result in breakthroughs that will have a direct impact on the care of patients who will benefit from advances in tissue restoration. I know we all look forward to that day.”

    (Posted 11/05/09)

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