June 15, 2024

Vitavo Yage

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New Consortium Aims to Transform Understanding of How the Human Body Senses Health and Disease | Newsroom

5 min read

New York, NY (November 9, 2023) – The Allen Discovery Center (ADC) for Neuroimmune Interactions at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai hopes to revolutionize the field of medicine with a groundbreaking project to understand how the human body senses health and disease.

Spearheaded by Dr. Brian S. Kim of Mount Sinai and co-led by Dr. David Artis of Weill Cornell Medicine, this new multidisciplinary research center brings together leading experts studying the intersection of immunology and neuroscience. This pioneering effort aims to reshape our understanding of fundamental biology and human disease, with the near-term goal of changing the way we treat chronic diseases.

Headshot of a man sitting in a green chair

Dr. David Artis. Credit: John Abbott

The Allen Discovery Center for Neuroimmune Interactions is funded at $10 million over four years by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, with a total potential for $20 million over eight years. The Allen Discovery Center program is advised by The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group.

The motivation behind this center is rooted in the profound advances achieved in immunology and neuroscience over the past decade. These breakthroughs have unveiled the intricate communication between the immune and nervous systems. The team’s mission is to explore the role of immune cells as environmental and internal sensors influencing various aspects of human behavior and to recognize the sensory nervous system’s newfound capacity to act as an immune organ.

“Together, our combined expertise aims to advance fundamental neuroimmunology, with a commitment to translating our findings into revolutionary therapies rapidly,” said Dr. Kim. “For example, many diseases arise from the immune system going awry. However, we are now finding that the nervous system communicates closely with the immune system to sense inflammation in ways we never imagined. We are also seeing how different organs communicate through this unique network. We can envision a future in which we treat psoriasis by tuning nerves in the skin, anxiety by modulating gut inflammation, and improving cancer therapy by limiting bad nerves from sprouting into the tumor.”

Physician-scientist in the lab

Dr. Brian Kim. Credit: Mount Sinai Health System

Dr. Kim, vice chair of research and professor of dermatology, Icahn Mount Sinai, and director of the Mark Lebwohl Center for Neuroinflammation and Sensation at Mount Sinai, pioneered the understanding of peripheral neurons as sensors of inflammation leading to FDA-approved itch therapies. He will lead this collaboration, joined by an exceptional team of investigators from Icahn Mount Sinai, Weill Cornell Medicine, NYU Langone Health, and Yale School of Medicine.

“Collaborating with The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group to launch the Allen Discovery Center for Neuroimmune Interactions here in New York City allows us to bring together outstanding investigators from Icahn Mount Sinai, NYU Langone Health, Weill Cornell Medicine, and Yale School of Medicine, providing a tremendous opportunity to leverage cutting-edge technologies to provide new insights into how the nervous and immune systems communicate with each other to regulate immunity, inflammation, and tissue homeostasis,” said Dr. Artis, who is director of the Jill Roberts Institute for Research in Inflammatory Bowel Disease and director of the Friedman Center for Nutrition and Inflammation at Weill Cornell Medicine. “The outcome of these studies will have implications for our understanding of the pathophysiology of a number of diseases, from asthma and allergy to autoimmunity and cancer.”

About the Mount Sinai Health System

Mount Sinai Health System is one of the largest academic medical systems in the New York metro area, with more than 43,000 employees working across eight hospitals, more than 400 outpatient practices, more than 300 labs, a school of nursing, and a leading school of medicine and graduate education. Mount Sinai advances health for all people, everywhere, by taking on the most complex health care challenges of our time—discovering and applying new scientific learning and knowledge; developing safer, more effective treatments; educating the next generation of medical leaders and innovators; and supporting local communities by delivering high-quality care to all who need it. Through the integration of its hospitals, labs, and schools, Mount Sinai offers comprehensive health care solutions from birth through geriatrics, leveraging innovative approaches such as artificial intelligence and informatics while keeping patients’ medical and emotional needs at the center of all treatment. The Health System includes approximately 7,400 primary and specialty care physicians; 13 joint-venture outpatient surgery centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and more than 30 affiliated community health centers. Hospitals within the System are consistently ranked by Newsweek’s® “The World’s Best Smart Hospitals, Best in State Hospitals, World Best Hospitals and Best Specialty Hospitals” and by U.S. News & World Report‘s® “Best Hospitals” and “Best Children’s Hospitals.” The Mount Sinai Hospital is on the U.S. News & World Report® “Best Hospitals” Honor Roll for 2023-2024.

About The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group

The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, a division of the Allen Institute, is dedicated to exploring the landscape of bioscience to identify and foster ideas that will change the world. The Frontiers Group recommends funding to The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, which then invests through award mechanisms to accelerate our understanding of biology, including: Allen Discovery Centers at partner institutions for leadership-driven, compass-guided research; and Allen Distinguished Investigators for frontier explorations with exceptional creativity and potential impact. The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group was founded in 2016 by the late philanthropist and visionary Paul G. Allen. For more information, visit alleninstitute.org/division/frontiers-group/

About Weill Cornell Medicine

Weill Cornell Medicine is committed to excellence in patient care, scientific discovery and the education of future physicians in New York City and around the world. The doctors and scientists of Weill Cornell Medicine—faculty from Weill Cornell Medical College, Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences, and Weill Cornell Physician Organization—are engaged in world-class clinical care and cutting-edge research that connect patients to the latest treatment innovations and prevention strategies. Located in the heart of the Upper East Side’s scientific corridor, Weill Cornell Medicine’s powerful network of collaborators extends to its parent university Cornell University; to Qatar, where Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar offers a Cornell University medical degree; and to programs in Tanzania, Haiti, Brazil, Austria and Turkey. Weill Cornell Medicine faculty provide exemplary patient care at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Westchester Behavioral Health Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian Queens and NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital. Weill Cornell Medicine is also affiliated with Houston Methodist. For more information, visit weill.cornell.edu.

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