The New York City-based Starr Foundation has awarded grants totaling $50 million to three area medical institutions to support collaborative embryonic stem cell research, the New York Times reports.
Although the three institutions — the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University, Rockefeller University, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center — each have scientists doing stem cell work in fields such as the origins of leukemia and the development of skin, blood, and nerve tissue, they have very different approaches to medicine. Rockefeller, for example, concentrates more on research into fundamental questions of biology and disease than on treating patients. Sloan-Kettering has the most specific focus, on cancer, in both research and clinical treatment. Weill, as a major medical school attached to a large teaching hospital, has the broadest focus, as well as one of the world's largest fertility clinics, ensuring a ready supply of frozen embryos that can yield stem cells.
"Joining forces allows us to do things that we wouldn't be able to do working alone," said Rockefeller University president Sir Paul Nurse, who added that the grants would help "increase the critical mass of researchers" needed to attract still more scientists and money.
"We face a very serious threat of losing economically, losing our scientific leadership, and even losing our top scientists, as other countries and California race ahead in this crucial field," said Antonio M. Gotto, dean of Weill Cornell. "A gift like this helps keep New York and the United States competitive."
The Starr Foundation focuses its grantmaking on support for education, medicine, culture, and services for the poor, with a particular focus on giving in New York City. According to foundation officials, with this grant it has now surpassed $1 billion in grantmaking to nonprofit institutions based in the city.