Profiles in Innovation. 2010

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Elizabeth Galst, Writer
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Throughout 2010, SUNY Downstate is marking its sesquicentennial. among the many reasons to celebrate this anniversary, one is particularly salient: for 150 years, SUNY Downstate faculty members have engaged in basic, translational, and clinical research with the goal of alleviating suffering and restoring health. some of these investigations have directly transformed medicine, while others produced insights into human physiology and pathology that opened new avenues of research that years later resulted in new ways of preventing or treating illnesses. this issue of Profi les in Innovation features an article highlighting some of the most important scientifi c and medical advances made by SUNY Downstate faculty over the 150 years. these medical milestones span a range of health problems, from heart disease and kidney failure to Marfan’s syndrome and low self-esteem. not unexpectedly, many of these advances have changed more than one fi eld of medicine. Dr. Robert Furchgott’s nobel Prize-winning discovery of nitric oxide’s role in the body is the basis for finding new ways to treat heart disease, dementia, cancer, lung disease, inflammatory joint disease, and other medical problems that affect, literally, hundreds of millions of people worldwide. today, SUNY Downstate basic scientists, behavioral scientists, clinicians, and public health experts are expanding our knowledge of a broad range of healthcare topics. In this issue, you can read about bench research being conducted to understand how brain cells communicate; find ways to boost HDL, or “good,” cholesterol; create a mouse model to study the effects of maternal crack bingeing on babies; and elucidate the genetic mechanism by which sleep disturbances increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. You can also read about research aimed at translating scientific discoveries into new medical interventions. Downstate researchers are harnessing the power of computing and their knowledge of the brain to create a prosthetic hand that works like the real one and testing the blood of heart surgery patients for an antibody that they suspect causes a damaging inflammatory response after surgery. working in Brooklyn, members of the Downstate community are keenly aware of the health problems of inner-city residents. two new research projects—one examining the reasons for the overuse of emergency room care, the other exploring the causes of health disparities among residents of the borough—are highlighted in this edition of Profi les in Innovation. By fi nding solutions to these problems, Downstate can contribute to solving important challenges confronting our nation. In another way, Downstate is already taking lessons learned in Brooklyn and using them to help people elsewhere. Brooklyn’s diversity is key to the success of Downstate’s International emergency Medical Program, which trains emergency medicine residents to work in other countries and to provide humanitarian relief. In this issue, you can also learn about the SUNY eye Institute, whose goal is to advance basic, translational, and clinical research in the field by creating a collaborative research program among three SUNY campuses--Downstate, Upstate, and the state College of optometry. and, finally, on its tenth anniversary, you can read about the remarkable success of Downstate’s Biotech Park as a scientific enterprise, economic engine, and workforce development initiative. Ian Taylor, MD, PhD senior Vice President, Biomedical education and Research Dean, College of Medicine
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