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New York Genome Center scores $100 million from James Simons, Russell Carson

Center says money will go towards building new labs, bolstering technology and treatment options for patients.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

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The New York Genome Center, a nonprofit focusing on biomedical research and clinical care, could be $100 million richer thanks to a challenge grant from the Simons Foundation and The Carson Family Charitable Trust.

James Simons, Simons Foundation chair and an NYGC board director, is contributing $80 million of the gift. The Carson Family Charitable Trust is led by NYGC board co-chairman Russell Carson, and will be kicking in the other $20 million.

The gift has been offered as a challenge grant to the Genome Center from the foundations of the two directors, meaning they will match every dollar that NYGC raises over the course of the next three years, up to $100 million.

NYGC already has plans for how they'll use the grant money that include expanding its capabilities to enable personalized medicine by offering physicians new insights and treatment options for patients; building new laboratories to scale genomics technology; advancing genomic discoveries; and developing new technologies and genome databases.

NYGC founding director and CEO, Robert B. Darnell, said that the monetary support will enable discoveries in a broad range of diseases, including cancer, neuropsychiatric and inflammatory diseases.

Carson said that investing in genomics research "is to the benefit of the community overall, and particularly to those suffering from some of our most challenging diseases."

Carson and Simons helped establish the New York Genome Center as a consortium of medical schools, hospitals, research institutions and industry partners dedicated to genomics research. Carson has served as co-chairman of the board since its creation.

Over the course of the past year, NYGC has expanded its research in a number of areas, including glioblastoma, pediatric cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, Lou Gehrig's disease and autism.

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Scientists at NYGC are also developing faster and more cost-effective methods for sequencing whole cancer genomes and single stem cells. The hope is that this will lead to better disease diagnosis and subsequent therapy.

Other donations are helping the organizations advance its goals. Just last week, NYGC received a $40 million grant from the National Human Genome Research Institute, a division of the National Institutes of Health, to create a Center for Common Disease Genomics. Through it, NYGC will work to develop a comprehensive list of genes underlying common diseases such as autism, autoimmune and neuropsychiatric disorders.

Twitter: @JELagasse

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