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HSS Receives $5.6 Million Grant to Support Genomics Research to Prevent and Repair Tissue Damage

Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS), known for its leadership in musculoskeletal care, is at the forefront of functional genomics for autoimmune diseases thanks to pioneering research being conducted by investigators in the David Z. Rosensweig Genomics Research Center. The Rosensweig Center was established in 2013 through the visionary partnership of The Tow Foundation.

Today, HSS announced that The Tow Foundation pledged an additional $5.6 million to transform the Center’s impact by highlighting translational research and expanding its focus from autoimmune disease to more broadly address the major musculoskeletal conditions which are seen every day at HSS. The goals of this new work are to prevent and repair musculoskeletal tissue damage related to acute or chronic injury, aging, and autoimmunity and inflammation.

"We are honored to receive this extraordinary grant from The Tow Foundation to build upon and leverage our expertise in genomics to ultimately improve patient outcomes in musculoskeletal care," said Lionel Ivashkiv, MD, chief scientific officer and director of the Rosensweig Center and HSS Research Institute. "HSS is uniquely positioned to study innovative solutions to prevent and repair tissue damage by bringing together world-class scientists with clinicians to pioneer applications in new disease areas."

"Musculoskeletal conditions affect 127 million adults in the United States and account for $874 billion, or 6 percent of national GDP, in direct and indirect costs," said Louis A. Shapiro, president and CEO at HSS. "There is a need now more than ever for research to preserve mobility."

"As an institution, we are committed to translational research in order to accelerate the discovery of new treatment options for patients here and across the globe," added Mr. Shapiro.

Specifically, the researchers will look at preserving mobility and function by repairing and rejuvenating tissues in these areas: tissue damage in autoimmune diseases; joint damage in arthritis; tendon degeneration and associated muscle weakness in tendinopathy; and bone loss in osteoporosis, arthritis and orthopaedic implant loosening. Scientists will work on developing therapies to promote repair of tissues after injuries and after surgeries such as joint replacement and spine fusion.

"These are areas that represent the major causes of pain and disability in our HSS patient population," said Dr. Ivashkiv. "Genomic approaches have been minimally used in some of these fields of study, so we are poised to perform transformative research."

"This is an exciting time to be applying genomics to tissue repair," explained Dr. Ivashkiv. "Recent scientific advances have provided new insights into the mechanisms of tissue repair that can be used to develop new therapeutic approaches."

"By the end of this grant, we hope to achieve successful application of precision medicine approaches to predict prognosis and response to therapy," added Dr. Ivashkiv. "Additionally, we would like to test new therapies in pre-clinical models and develop partnerships with the HSS Innovation Institute and others for translation to patients."

Under the leadership of Dr. Ivashkiv, the Center has already made important contributions to understanding the function of autoimmunity genes and molecular pathways in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and scleroderma.

It has also recruited and mentored junior faculty who have obtained NIH grants, which is the highest metric of scientific quality and impact.

The Center will be expanding to 13 HSS faculty and will continue collaborations with investigators at Weill Cornell Medicine, Sloan-Kettering Institute and the New York Genome Center (NYGC).

About The Tow Foundation
Established in 1988 by Leonard and Claire Tow, The Tow Foundation funds projects that offer transformative experiences to individuals and create collaborative ventures in fields where they see opportunities for breakthroughs, reform, and benefits for underserved populations. Investments focus on the support of innovative programs and system reform in the areas of juvenile and criminal justice, groundbreaking medical research, higher education, and cultural institutions. For more information, visit http://www.towfoundation.org.