SinaInnovations Spotlights a New Era of Discovery

“We have learned that the impossible is possible, and advances are being made that we could not have imagined just a few years ago,” said Dennis S. Charney, MD, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and President for Academic Affairs, Mount Sinai Health System, at the conclusion of the school’s third annual SinaInnovations conference in November.

The conference, which took place on campus Tuesday and Wednesday, November 18 and 19, respectively, focused on breakthroughs in medicine and engineering that improve human health and was sponsored jointly with Mount Sinai’s academic affiliate Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI).

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Department of Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics Awarded More Than $31 Million in NIH Grants

Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have received more than $31 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to create three new centers that will study how drugs interact with human cells to increase their effectiveness and decrease side effects.

A new Drug Toxicity Signature Center will be run by Ravi Iyengar, PhD, Dorothy H. and Lewis Rosenstiel Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics, who has received a grant totaling $11.6 million from the NIH. By leveraging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Adverse Event Reporting System database, the center will develop cell signatures that can be used to predict the effects of certain drugs and drug combinations.

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Potential New Drug and Clinical Trial: Sarcoidosis Goes “Modern” with Crowdsourcing

Developing new drugs for the treatment of sarcoidosis isn’t easy. First, the cause of sarcoidosis is unknown. Second, prednisone, a remarkably effective medication for the treatment of sarcoidosis, limited only by its adverse side effect profile, is tough to beat. Third, sarcoidosis is a rare disease, which affects fewer than 200,000 people in the US per year. These challenges notwithstanding, researchers at Mount Sinai will be testing a new drug for the treatment of sarcoidosis. In late 2015, the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine will be enrolling sarcoidosis patients, who meet prespecified entry criteria, into a clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy and safety of KiactaTM for the treatment of sarcoidosis.

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Exploring the Impact of Anesthesia on the Elderly

A pioneering study now under way at the Mount Sinai Health System’s Translational and Molecular Imaging Institute is exploring why older patients often wake up from surgery disoriented and some experience cognitive deficits several months later. The study is being led by Jeffrey Silverstein, MD, Professor and Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Anesthesiology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, with $3.1 million in funding from The National Institute on Aging.

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Study Reveals Common Genetic Changes Are Significant in Autism

Genetic changes are responsible for roughly 60 percent of the risk for autism, and most of these variants are commonly found in the general population, according to a groundbreaking study led by Joseph D. Buxbaum, PhD, Director of the Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment, and Professor of Psychiatry, Neuroscience, and Genetics and Genomic Sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

The remaining nongenetic factors that account for roughly 40 percent of the risk for autism are not known. However, environmental factors and the interaction between genes and the environment may be a part of these nongenetic factors, says Dr. Buxbaum, the G. Harold and Leila Y. Mathers Research Professor of Geriatrics and Adult Development at Icahn School of Medicine.

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Teaching Heart-Healthy Habits to High-Risk Children and Families

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has received a $3.8 million grant from the American Heart Association (AHA) to promote cardiovascular health through early education and intervention programs targeting high-risk children and their parents in Harlem and the Bronx.

Mount Sinai researchers will study the genes and lifestyles of 600 preschoolers and their parents or guardians who live in these communities, which are associated with high rates of obesity, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. The investigators will track whether the interventions lead to healthier eating habits and additional exercise. They will also examine the participants’ DNA and RNA to understand how genetics plays a role in the development of cardiovascular disease.

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New Research Refutes Long-Held Antiviral Theory

A long-standing belief that mammals use the same potent antiviral molecules deployed by plants and invertebrates is being challenged by researchers at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Their findings, published in the July 10, 2014, issue of Cell Reports, surprised many scientists who assumed that antiviral RNA Interference (RNAi) exists in humans as a natural result of evolution.

Scientists know that human cells, like cells in every living organism with a nucleus, encode and generate small RNAs, which influence our genetics. It is also known that mammals combat viruses with interferons—proteins manufactured by immune cells in response to pathogens.

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