The grand opening of the Center for Engineering and Precision Medicine (CEPM), a partnership between Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (Icahn Mount Sinai), was held March 29, 2023 at the Hudson Research Center (HRC) at 619 West 54th Street.
The center is the latest in a 10+ year partnership between RPI, a world-renowned technological research university known for its engineering, technology, and science programs, and Icahn Mount Sinai, the academic arm of the Mount Sinai Health System, which includes eight hospitals and a vast network of ambulatory practices throughout the greater New York City region. The HRC is a 320,000-square-foot, mixed-use hub for innovation in New York City’s growing life sciences sector.
“We are thrilled to open the doors to the Center for Engineering and Precision Medicine,” said Rensselaer President Martin A. Schmidt, Ph.D. “CEPM will transform the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, Alzheimer’s, infectious diseases, and more by advancing state-of-the-art technologies and focusing on a personalized approach. CEPM, the third of RPI’s New York City-based research centers, will also provide exceptional educational opportunities for the next generation of researchers, medical professionals, and life sciences entrepreneurs.”
Leveraging the strength of RPI and Icahn Mount Sinai, CEPM bridges research, technology development and commercialization, and education. CEPM is one of the first life science centers of its kind in New York City and the nation to integrate engineering and biomedical sciences with education, training, and research collaborations to radically improve human health.
CEPM is built on the tenet that engineering is fundamental to understanding biomedical phenomena and developing the next generation of precision diagnostics and therapeutics for human health and well-being. RPI and Icahn Mount Sinai are well-positioned to seamlessly integrate research and education in engineering with medicine and transform personalized medicine. Critically, a major distinguishing feature of CEPM is the immense diversity in patients within the Mount Sinai Health System. This diversity, together with the analytical capabilities of engineering, is critical in advancing precision medicine.
“The Center for Engineering and Precision Medicine combines the biomedical excellence of Icahn Mount Sinai with the engineering expertise of RPI to create an academic research hub that will make fundamental discoveries and develop new treatments that will improve the lives of patients suffering from the most complex diseases,” said Dennis S. Charney, M.D., the Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of Icahn Mount Sinai.
Housed in 23,000 square feet of lab space on the 9th floor of the HRC, CEPM will benefit from the area’s abundance of research talent and is in the process of recruiting faculty and staff. The space provides both wet lab and dry lab capabilities with high-performance computational infrastructure to seamlessly perform complex experiments and build advanced technologies to diagnose, treat, and manage diseases at a patient’s level. Office space and open cubicles surround the lab space to create a cohesive and collaborative research environment to promote interdisciplinary teamwork.
“The Center for Engineering and Precision Medicine is more than a hub for research and education — it’s a bridge to the future,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “Our administration is harnessing the momentum of the life sciences industry to create access to next-generation jobs for everyone. Last year, Governor Hochul and I announced SPARC Kips Bay, an education and innovation hub that will be the first of its kind in New York City, which will generate $25 billion in economic impact to the city and create 10,000 jobs. Together, we are going to make sure New York City leads the globe in life sciences.”
The New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) Research Institute, a nonprofit organization with a mission to accelerate cures for the major diseases of our time, is on the second and third floors of the HRC. Stem cell research plays a critical role in engineering tissue repair and in developing various cell types for drug discovery screening.
“These two institutions are widely recognized leaders in engineering and medicine, and we are delighted to welcome the Center for Engineering and Precision Medicine to the Hudson Research Center by hosting the grand opening event,” said Derrick Rossi, Ph.D., Interim CEO of NYSCF. “The synergies between NYSCF’s stem cell biology and the engineering and medical expertise at CEPM will lead to new and important collaborations to accelerate discoveries that directly reach patients.”
Speakers included Schmidt and Charney, Mayor Adams, Senator Charles Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (via video), and New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) President and CEO Andrew Kimball.
“As we continue to establish New York City as the leader in the life sciences industry, we must continue to bolster innovation that will create new jobs and spur meaningful research,” said Kimball. “The Center for Engineering and Precision Medicine will uniquely bridge biology, health care, and technology to advance cutting-edge discoveries and accelerate breakthrough treatment for intractable diseases, advancing individualized treatment, and improving quality of life for all New Yorkers. We are excited to continue working with our partners to spark new opportunities in this rapidly growing industry.”
The keynote speakers were Rossi and Roderic I. Pettigrew, Ph.D., M.D., CEO of Engineering Health and Executive Dean for Engineering Medicine at Texas A&M University, in partnership with Houston Methodist Hospital.
Additional speakers included CEPM Co-Directors Jonathan Dordick, Ph.D., Institute Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Biological Sciences at Rensselaer; and Priti Balchandani, Ph.D., Professor of Diagnostic, Molecular and Interventional Radiology, Neuroscience, and Psychiatry at Icahn Mount Sinai; as well as Deepak Vashishth, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies at Rensselaer and CEPM Associate Director.
“The Center for Engineering and Precision Medicine will enable breakthroughs in neuromodulation, immune resilience, and regenerative and reparative medicine,” said CEPM Co-Director Dordick. “We will give top talent with ambitious ideas the resources they need to more effectively advance personalized medicine to address intractable diseases and benefit patients.”
CEPM represents the evolution of a successful partnership between Mount Sinai and Rensselaer that has secured over $80 million in shared research funding since 2013. CEPM will drive advances in point-of-care and point-of-use devices and diagnostics; microphysiological platforms for discovery and diagnosis; robotic surgery; biomedical imaging; therapeutics biomanufacturing; and artificial intelligence and machine learning applied to biomedical data.
“The Center for Engineering and Precision Medicine is creating a direct opportunity for exceptional engineers to apply their knowledge and skill toward the transformation of medicine and improvement of human health,” said CEPM Co-Director Balchandani.
CEPM will offer a joint Ph.D. to train students in engineering medicine with expertise in reparative medicine, and neuro- and immuno- engineering through educational courses and research training. It will involve immersions in engineering, entrepreneurship and commercialization, and clinical rotation and shadowing to create a “translational mindset” at the onset of the program and produce a new breed of Ph.D.s capable of inventing new technologies to address unmet clinical needs. The development of certificate programs will broaden CEPM’s academic mission and facilitate entrepreneurship and commercialization of advanced technologies and medical devices.
“The Center for Engineering and Precision Medicine presents exciting opportunities for researchers, students, and, ultimately, patients,” said Vashishth. “The treatments and technologies developed at CEPM will decrease side effects and increase effectiveness for patients and usher an inclusive and healthier future for medicine and health care.”
“We are proud to welcome Rensselaer and Mount Sinai as they launch the new Center for Engineering and Precision Medicine in the Hudson Research Center,” said Matthew Weir, President of Elevate Research Properties. “This new center will serve as an important anchor for the growing New York City research ecosystem.”