Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Rensselaer Announce Collaboration
Partnership Will Accelerate the Pace of Discovery and Innovation in Biomedical Sciences
The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Rensselaer have announced an affiliation agreement to collaborate on educational programs, research, and development of new diagnostic tools and treatments that promote human health. The alliance was commemorated in a signing ceremony on May 22, 2013.
The institutions launched the initiative to use their expertise—Rensselaer’s in engineering and invention prototyping and Mount Sinai’s in biomedical research and patient care—to provide synergy in their promotion of human health.
Rensselaer and Mount Sinai will develop complementary research programs in neuroscience and neurological diseases, genomics, imaging, orthopaedics, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and scientific and clinical targets that capitalize on each institution’s unique strengths. Joint funding in research programs will be sought, including precision medicine, drug discovery, stem cell biology, robotics and robotic surgery, novel imaging techniques, cellular engineering, and computational neurobiology.
“With high competition for funding and with the pharmaceutical industry investing less in research and development, institutions with complementary strengths must partner to revolutionize biomedical research,” said Dennis Charney, M.D., Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and executive vice president for academic affairs at the Mount Sinai Medical Center. “With both institutions committed to a culture of innovation in research and education, we look forward to working with Rensselaer to help provide the blueprint for 21st-century science and health care delivery.”
According to Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson, “combining Mount Sinai’s leadership in biomedical research and patient care—with Rensselaer’s breakthrough research in biotechnology and interdisciplinary studies, rooted in our leadership in science, engineering, and technological entrepreneurship—we expect this agreement to result in radical innovations in health care. At Rensselaer, we have a very simple motto that is nonetheless breathtaking in its audacity: ‘Why not change the world?’ Mount Sinai and Rensselaer are now taking a significant step toward revolutionizing education, research, and practice in the field of medicine—and ultimately, improving human health around the globe.”
Initially, key areas of focus will be genomics, imaging, tissue engineering, and neuroscience. With Mount Sinai’s $3 million investment to build the Minerva supercomputer and the Rensselaer high-performance computing center at the Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations—featuring a new IBM Blue Gene/Q supercomputing system—the two institutions will implement some of the most advanced high-performance supercomputing in the world. This will enable them to quickly and efficiently produce sophisticated computer algorithms that analyze genomic data and develop predictive models of disease, which can better help diagnose and treat patients. Mount Sinai’s newly opened Hess Center for Science and Medicine and the Rensselaer Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS) will serve as hubs for research and development.
“In terms of medicine, the linkage between technological universities and medical schools has never been more urgent,” said Jonathan Dordick, vice president for research and Howard Isermann Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Rensselaer. “The impact of technological breakthroughs in imaging, data acquisition, analytics, and new therapeutics— among others—is rapidly re-shaping medical paradigms and education. We also share a common entrepreneurial spirit.”
The institutions also will work together in the development and utilization of novel neuroimaging techniques and neurotechnologies that help better understand and treat neurological disorders. These areas are a national priority, with the White House announcing the launch of the BRAIN Initiative (Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies)—through which Rensselaer and Mount Sinai will apply together for funding.
“This partnership will allow our neuroscientists and Rensselaer’s engineers to work together to identify shortcomings in imaging, develop new diagnostic tools, and even treatment tools, such as a system for helping paralyzed people walk and manipulate their environment with the assistance of robotics,” said John Morrison, dean of basic sciences and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and professor of neuroscience at Mount Sinai. “The federal government has recognized the unmet need for neurotechnologies in helping understand, diagnose, and treat some of the world’s most devastating neurological disorders, and Mount Sinai and Rensselaer hope to be at the forefront in addressing that need.”
Mount Sinai and Rensselaer plan to create the Mount Sinai and Rensselaer Collaborative Center for Research Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which will focus on transitioning basic research into innovative startup projects. The center will join with Mount Sinai’s Center for Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship, led by Geoffrey Smith, in guiding students and faculty from both institutions to accelerate research breakthroughs from the laboratory, to patent, and eventually to the marketplace.