The New York Stem Cell Foundation Announces: Inaugural NYSCF – Robertson Neuroscience Investigator Awards RFA and The 2011 NYSCF – Robertson Stem Cell Investigator RFA

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The New York Stem Cell Foundation Expands Efforts to Foster Transformative Research

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“Our Stem Cell Investigator Program is providing financial support and encouragement to some of the world’s most creative young scientists..."

In its ongoing efforts to cultivate the next generation of innovative scientific researchers, The New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) announced details and the RFA for the new NYSCF – Robertson Neuroscience Investigator Awards as well as the RFA for the second year of NYSCF – Robertson Stem Cell Investigator Awards. The new NYSCF Neuroscience Investigator Program is designed to foster truly innovative and excellent neuroscience with the potential to transform our fundamental understanding of the brain and how it functions. NYSCF – Robertson Neuroscience Investigators will work on a broad spectrum of developmental, cellular, cognitive and behavioral neuroscience (which need not be related to stem cells). At least nine NYSCF – Robertson Investigators will receive awards in the first three years.

The NYSCF – Robertson Stem Cell Investigator Awards promote research exploring the therapeutic potential of human stem cells. At least 18 NYSCF – Robertson Stem Cell Investigators will be awarded in the first five years, of which the inaugural group was awarded in 2010. All NYSCF - Robertson Investigators will receive $1.5 million over five years with the program awarding over $40 million to support scientists in the next stages of their careers. All candidates must be within five years of starting as a tenure track professor or comparable position.

According to NYSCF Chief Executive Officer, Susan L. Solomon, who announced the Investigator Programs in conjunction with this week’s International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) meeting in Toronto, NYSCF has supported more than 32 outstanding postdoctoral young stem cell scientists through the NYSCF Fellowship Program. The NYSCF Stem Cell Investigator Program, which began last year, supports scientists engaged in cutting-edge translational stem cell research with the potential to accelerate the path from bench to bedside. These scientists launch their own laboratories, train other scientists, and pursue groundbreaking research.

“Our Stem Cell Investigator Program is providing financial support and encouragement to some of the world’s most creative young scientists, and we are very excited about building on our existing program and expanding into the field of neuroscience,” says Ms. Solomon. She notes that, most recently, NYSCF-Robertson Investigator Dr. Marius Wernig and colleagues at Stanford University successfully converted skin cells of humans into functional neurons, while NYSCF – Robertson Investigator Dr. Derrick Rossi, an assistant professor at Harvard University, was named one of Time Magazine’s “People who Mattered in 2010.” “The Investigator Programs support scientists as they focus on high-risk/high-reward research that has the potential to find cures for some of the most intractable diseases of our time.”

NYSCF – Robertson Neuroscience Investigators will be selected by a four-member jury chaired by Dr. Marc Tessier-Lavigne, who recently succeeded Paul Nurse as the 10th president of The Rockefeller University. Other members of the neuroscience jury include:

  •     Anders Björklund, MD, PhD, Professor of Histology at the Wallenberg Neuroscience Center, Department of Experimental Medical Science, University of Lund in Sweden.
  •     Lorenz Studer, MD, Director of the Sloan-Kettering Center for Stem Cell Biology and a Professor in the Developmental Biology Program and the Department of Neurosurgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Dr. Studer will also serve on the Stem Cell Investigator jury.
  •     Catherine Dulac, PhD, Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator at Harvard University’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.

NYSCF Stem Cell Investigators will be chosen by a four-member jury chaired by Dr. Douglas A. Melton, PhD, an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Co-Director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. Dr. Melton is Co-Chairman of the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard University and a member of NYSCF’s Medical Advisory Board Executive Committee. In addition to Dr. Studer, other members of the jury include:

  •     Dr. Irving Weissman, MD, Director of the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at the Stanford School of Medicine, where he is also the Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Professor for Clinical Investigation and Cancer Research; and Past President of ISSCR.
  •     Dr. Christine Mummery, PhD, Chair of the Department of Anatomy and Embryology at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, where she also serves on the Ethical Committee of the Netherlands Academy of Science and Ministry of Health. Dr. Mummery is also an Editor/Editorial Board Member of Stem Cell Research, Cell Stem Cell, and Differentiation; an elected member of the board of ISSCR; and President of the International Society of Differentiation.

The deadline for applications to both programs is 5:00 p.m. EST on July 8, 2011. The Inaugural NYSCF – Robertson Neuroscience Award recipients and the NYSCF – Robertson Stem Cell Investigator Award recipients will be announced at NYSCF’s Sixth Annual Translational Stem Cell Research Conference, which will be held on October 11-12, 2011 at The Rockefeller University in New York City.

Support for the NYSCF – Robertson Neuroscience Investigator Awards is provided by the Robertson Foundation. The Robertson Foundation also provides the principal support for the NYSCF Stem Cell Investigator Program. For more information on the RFAs, visit http://bit.ly/mfQpAf.

About The New York Stem Cell Foundation:
Since 2005, The New York Stem Cell Foundation has used private funds to support stem cell scientists around the world, educate the public, and advance the most cutting-edge stem cell research in the NYSCF Laboratory, all to bring us closer to the cures we need. For more information, visit http://www.nyscf.org

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