Technion and NYU cooperate: (left to right) Dr. Dafna Bar-Sagi of Langone; Prof. Aaron Ciechanover of the Technion; and Prof. Eliezer Shalev, dean of the Technion Faculty of Medicine.
(photo credit: TECHNION)
Two of the world’s preeminent academic and research institutions -- New York University’s Langone Medical Center and Haifa’sTechnion-Israel Institute of Technology -- have made a “groundbreaking step forward to advance global collaboration in the fight against cancer formally.
On Wednesday night, they announced a $9 million gift from philanthropists Laura and Isaac Perlmutter that will fund two major, joint research endeavors with potentially far-reaching impact in advancing cancer research. The joint program aims at attracting additional, world-class support from institutions and individuals who are dedicated to eradicating cancer through focused and efficient research, they said in a joint statement.
The first $3 million of the grant will finance six cancer-focused research projects to be conducted by teams spearheaded by co-investigators from both NYU and the Technion. The remaining $6 million will be used to establish a state-of-the-art research facility on Technion’s campus that will support these and other research projects and focus mainly on the emerging field of cancer metabolomics.
“NYU Langone and the Technion have a shared, longstanding commitment to advancing cancer research,” said Dr. Dafna Bar-Sagi, senior vice president and vice dean for science at the New York hospital, chief science officer at NYU School of Medicine and a principal architect of the NYU Langone-Technion partnership. “We are now at a great moment in our institutions’ illustrious histories, a point from which we can jointly leverage the talent and creativity of our researchers toward accelerating breakthroughs. The foresight and the generosity of the Perlmutters, particularly at this time of financial challenge in funding for basic research, will have tremendous impact.”
“Bringing together the unique expertise of researchers from both NYU and the Technion will hopefully enable us to overcome some of the most difficult challenges in treating cancer patients,” said Technion Prof. Aaron Ciechanover, the 2004 Nobel Prize Laureate in Chemistry and Distinguished Research Professor and head of the David and Janet Polak Cancer and Vascular Biology Research Center at the Technion Faculty of Medicine.
Renowned cancer biologist Dr. Benjamin Neel, an expert in the field of cell signal transduction, recently joined the Langone faculty as director of the Perlmutter Cancer Center, and Dr. Eyal Gottlieb, a world leader in cancer metabolism, has been recruited to lead the new research facility at the Technion funded by the Perlmutter gift. Neel will work closely with Ciechanover to lead the collaborative cancer research effort between the two institutions, they said.
In addition, Neel will oversee at NYU the building of world-class translational programs in immunotherapy, cancer genetics/targeted therapies and epigenetics, imaging, as well as expanded programs in clinical care, community outreach and supportive oncology.
The latest gift also recognizes the Perlmutters’ commitment to wed Israel’s strengths as a global leader in research and technological innovation with other institutions and endeavors, the institutions said.
Cancer metabolomics will be the principal focus of the research lab that will be established at the Technion. Metabolomics is the comprehensive study of chemical processes in cells such as the breaking down of sugars and fats; these processes are both affected by, and can influence, a variety of human diseases including cancer. Because of the significant differences in the chemical processes that occur in cancer cells in comparison to normal healthy cells, metabolomics is becoming ever more important in cancer research.
Novel imaging approaches, early detection blood tests and new targeted drugs to fight cancer would all be facilitated with a deep and comprehensive understanding of cancer metabolomics.