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The Gottesmans donate $25 million to AECOM

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The Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University announced that it has received a major gift of $25 million – one of the largest in the College’s 53-year history – from Ruth L. and David S. Gottesman.

The Gottesman gift will support several important research projects at the College of Medicine, most of them to be conducted in the new Michael F. Price Center for Genetic and Translational Medicine/Harold and Muriel Block Research Pavilion, which officially opens in June 2008.  The Price Center/Block Research Pavilion is the largest medical research facility to be constructed in the Bronx since Einstein opened in 1955.

Funds from the gift will be allocated as follows:  $15 million will be used to establish the Ruth L. and David S. Gottesman Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Research; $7 million will fund The Center for Epigenomics, to be headed by Einstein researcher Dr. John Greally; and $3 million will be used to create The  Ruth L. Gottesman Clinical Skills Facility in the soon-to-be renovated Van Etten Building, which Einstein has leased from Jacobi Medical Center as part of its overall expansion.  In addition, the gift will support an endowed chair at the Gottesman stem cell institute and a faculty scholar in Epigenomics, as well as the recruitment of top-flight faculty that will bolster Einstein’s already prominent leadership in both of these important fields. 

The specific benefits of the gift to Einstein, as well as to the patients who will be helped by the resulting research and training, are as follows:

• Exploring the basic biology of stem cells—discovering, for example, how a human embryonic stem cell develops into a liver cell rather than a brain cell—is crucially important if stem cells are to be used to treat a wide range of devastating human diseases. Einstein researchers are at the forefront of this inquiry, and the Gottesman gift establishing the Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Research will help them achieve their research objectives.

• With some 20 of its scientists studying epigenomics, Einstein ranks as a leader in this exciting new field, which the National Institutes of Health recently added to research programs it funds that are “expected to have exceptionally high impact.” Epigenomics is the study of the vast network of chemical “marks” inside our cells that control the expression of our genes, turning them on and off at certain times and in certain tissues. These chemicals, which latch onto our genes but can also be removed, comprise our “epigenomes” and affect our lives in crucially important ways. Scientists now believe that many complex diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and autism, result from epigenomic changes that cause gene regulation to go awry. Altered epigenomic marks have also been found in every type of cancer that researchers have examined.

• A portion of the Gottesman gift will greatly enhance Einstein’s efforts to impart clinical skills to its students. Teaching medical students the basic skills of clinical examination—how to communicate with patients and take their histories, for example—is crucially important in training new doctors. Up until now, Einstein has lacked a single, stand-alone clinical center where its medical students could master such skills. When the new facility is built, Einstein will have the state-of-the-art training facility that it needs.

Prior to joining the Einstein Board of Overseers in 2002, Dr. Ruth Gottesman had a distinguished 33-year academic career at the medical school, beginning in 1968 when she joined Einstein’s Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center (CERC) to develop a program for children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. She went on to serve as CERC’s Director of Psychoeducational Services and later as Director of the Adult Literacy Program. In 1999, she became Founding Director of the Fisher Landau Center for the Treatment of Learning Disabilities, a new division of CERC that was established to provide interdisciplinary services to individuals of all ages with learning disabilities.

David Gottesman is the founder and senior managing director of the First Manhattan Company, an investment advisory firm.  He was chairman of the Board of Yeshiva University from 1990 to 1998.

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