About the Black Family Stem Cell Institute
The Black Family Stem Cell Institute is Mount Sinai’s foundation for both basic and disease-oriented research on embryonic and adult stem cells. The therapeutic use of stem cells is a promising area of medicine for the decades ahead, and Icahn School of Medicine, located in New York City, is a pioneer in stem cell research.
Progress in understanding the implications of stem cell research has been swift. Studies show that it is possible to reprogram adult skin cells into cells that are very similar to embryonic stem cells. Once stem cells can be grown and differentiated in a controlled way to replace degenerated cells and repair tissues, medical science may then be able to diagnose and cure many intractable diseases at their earliest stages, such as type 1 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, various cardiovascular diseases, liver disease, and cancer.
At the Black Family Stem Cell Institute, researchers are exploring such fundamental questions as:
- What makes a stem cell a stem cell?
- Why does one stem cell grow into a nerve cell and another a muscle cell?
- How are cell fate decisions made?
- Is there a way to manipulate these decisions to benefit patients?
The Black Family Stem Cell Institute culture encourages interdisciplinary inquiry and analysis and reinforces the value of collaboration between basic and applied researchers. We have recruited basic and applied researchers simultaneously to ensure that creative interactions flourish from the beginning.
We anticipate a wide range of collaborations on particular diseases. For example, collaborations to generate reprogrammed stem cells from a range of diseases resulting from inborn errors — already established and under way — enable investigators to develop disease models that in turn may provide insights leading to improved diagnostic and therapeutic possibilities.
In addition to relying on established approaches in experimenting with stem cells, the Black Family Stem Cell Institute plans to explore some very promising avenues using newly available research tools and quantitative approaches. For example, work with the Experimental Therapeutics Institute and with Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics is underway to develop computational tools to model and understand the mechanisms by which stem cells control their differentiation decisions.
Black Family Stem Cell Institute researchers are examining why stem cells function in certain types of niches, microenvironments, and pockets of activity. Investigators are working to break the code in stem cell communication by determining how stem cells signal one another and other cells. The new knowledge that will result from this research holds the promise of diagnostic and therapeutic breakthroughs.
Black Family Stem Cell Institute