Rensselaer, Mount Sinai partner on center to tackle uncured diseases

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“It will be the new biotech hub, and Rensselaer will be at the center of it,” said Gary Zarr, a spokesman for the university, which is upstate in Troy. “This is just the beginning of it, with the lab expected to continue to grow in scale and size.” 

According to the plan, 60 people will work at the center, including new faculty hires, research scientists, doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows and support staff. Research will continue at Rensselaer’s Troy campus.

The Center for Engineering and Precision Medicine stems from the collaborative work already taking place between Rensselaer and Icahn Mount Sinai researchers in the field of precision medicine, a personalized approach to disease treatment and prevention based on an individual’s biological, environmental and lifestyle factors.

Precision medicine is being implemented in areas such as cancer immunology, neuroinflammation and regenerative and reparative medicine.

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“I do think it’s going to be the future of medicine,” RPI President Shirley Ann Jackson said. “We have all this data, and it’s clinical data, and they have all this data on patients. But the issue is: How do you put all of that together, which is at a gross level, and marry it with an understanding of what’s really going on in a person’s life at the cellular level?” 

There is a long way to go in understanding how certain genes lead to diseases such as breast cancer, Jackson added. 

The new center is expected to focus on three research areas: neuroengineering, immunoengineering and regenerative and reparative medicine. 

The center also will be home to academic programs to help students earn joint, dual or individual doctorates from Rensselaer and Mount Sinai, the partners said.

Founded in 1824, RPI had total net assets last year of approximately $938 million, according to a PWC audit. Its endowment for last year was greater than $1 billion. Mount Sinai has an operating revenue of $3.2 billion.

This story first appeared in our sister publication, Crain’s New York Business.



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