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Stony Brook University, Mount Sinai to be research partners

Stony Brook University President Dr. Samuel Stanley, right,

Stony Brook University President Dr. Samuel Stanley, right, and Kenneth Kaushansky, senior vice president of health sciences and dean of Stony Brook's School of Medicine, at the medical school on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016. Photo Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Stony Brook University and Mount Sinai Health System will sign a formal agreement Thursday to collaborate on research projects, medical education and clinical trials expected to involve patients with a range of serious conditions, including cancer and heart disease, officials said.

Executives at both institutions called the partnership a milestone that will increase the availability of drugs and devices under study to a larger number of patients and bolster training of physicians, nurses and other medical professionals.

“This will have an impact from Manhattan to Montauk — or maybe I should say that from our perspective, from Montauk to Manhattan,” said Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky, senior vice president for health sciences and dean of Stony Brook University’s School of Medicine.

The cross-pollination between the institutions centers on sharing resources and scientific expertise in a large number of fields. Among them are drug research, cardiology, cancer biology, biomedical engineering and computer science, and neuroscience, Kaushansky said.

Bench-to-bedside clinical trials — what researchers call procedures that move from the laboratory to patients’ bedsides — are a centerpiece of the pact.

The collaborative agreement, which begins immediately, will be signed Thursday at ceremonies at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine in Manhattan in the morning and at Stony Brook Hospital in the afternoon.

Dr. Samuel Stanley, Stony Brook University’s president and a specialist in infectious diseases, said he’s pumped about the partnership because it aids students, scientists and patients.

“It has gone pretty rapidly. We have probably been talking for less than a year,” Stanley said, noting that “we found that we have a lot in common with Mount Sinai.”

Multiple hospitals are affiliated with each medical center, so there are opportunities for patients across the region to have access to clinical trials that emerge through the partnership, Stanley said.

“We are two world-class medical schools,” said Dr. Dennis Charney, dean of Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine. “This is an affiliation where we will try to do a number of things, and the menu of opportunity is enormous.

“Our students will have rotations at both institutions and our graduate students will have the opportunity to be mentored by scientists here and at Stony Brook,” said Charney, who also is president of academic affairs with Mount Sinai Health System.

Stony Brook Hospital and Mount Sinai are not combining or changing their names, but collaborating in areas where each has expertise, a move that executives said will benefit the quality of medical research in the greater metropolitan area.

Officials said only $500,000 has been put toward the collaboration so far, though doctors from both schools pointed to the existing depth of programs and research at each institution.

The partnership comes within weeks of Winthrop-University Hospital announcing it has begun talks with NYU Langone Medical Center in Manhattan to create an integrated health-care network.

Last year, Northwell Health and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory announced a $120 million bench-to-bedside collaborative agreement involving cancer clinical trials. Those two institutions described their agreement as a joint, long-term investment directed toward basic and clinical cancer research, medical training and treatment-development.

Additionally last year, Northwell and Hofstra University collaborated to develop a graduate school of nursing and allied health professions.

The pact between Stony Brook and Mount Sinai involves two institutions that have individually made major strides in medical education and research over many decades. As partners, doctors said, the pair can have a more potent impact.

Because Stony Brook is a large university, there are areas of research — such as engineering, mathematics and computer science — that are unavailable at a medical school, Mount Sinai’s Charney said.

Through the partnership, those fields will be open to medical students, and highly specialized areas of research unique to Mount Sinai will be open to scientists and medical students from Stony Brook.

As part of the affiliation, Stony Brook doctors pinpointed a cardiac research project under way at Mount Sinai that might prove beneficial to Long Island patients with a heart valve disorder. The research involves a newly developed catheter designed to improve heart function for patients with mitral valve disease, Kaushansky said.

“We are also exploring each other’s cancer clinical trials,” he said. “There are about six or eight that Sinai has that we would like to enroll our patients in, and there are some here that they have an interest in.”

Benefits are expected to flow from the partnership through the field of biomedical informatics — an emerging discipline in which large amounts of medical information, known as “big data,” are collected and processed to more effectively impact patient care, Kaushansky said.

For example, massive amounts of data can be analyzed to determine which patients are most likely to be rehospitalized or which would benefit most from a specific drug therapy, he said — an excellent fit with Stony Brook’s expertise in high-performance computing and mathematics.

Kaushansky said the collaboration, an affiliation he initiated in talks last year with Charney, is one of the university’s largest undertakings.

“It’s difficult to describe exactly how excited I am,” Kaushansky said.

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