By Richard Asinof
PROVIDENCE – Lifespan opened a new stem cell research laboratory Wednesday afternoon on the fifth floor of the hospital network’s Coro Building. The lab is the first phase of a major investment to turn the entire building in Providence’s Knowledge District into a state-of-the art research facility.
Construction of the new 11,000-sqare-foot research lab, a Center for Biomedical Research Excellence for Stem Cell Biology, was funded through a $300,000 National Institutes of Health grant to Dr. Peter Quesenberry, director of hematology oncology at Rhode Island and The Miriam hospitals.
The lab will provide researchers with the state-of-the-art technology needed to support ongoing research in the areas of cancer, tissue injury and basic stem cell biology, according to Quesenberry.
“This new lab space will help us to further study the use of stem cells for the treatment of many illnesses – various forms of cancer, tissue and organ damage and much more,” Quesenberry said. “Creating this research hub provides our researchers with the best possible resources, and places us in close proximity to the hospitals, allowing us to more appropriately collaborate with our peers, and truly bring research from the bench to the bedside.”
The laboratory also will support research in novel anti-cancer treatments for pediatric and adult malignancies, and will continue to examine therapeutic mechanisms underlying refractory leukemia and lymphoma, according to hospital officials. The new lab space can accommodate 14 laboratory benches, and can accommodate 10 funded investigators, as well as their technicians and students.
“Part of Rhode Island Hospital’s mission is to be at the forefront of patient care by creating, applying and sharing the most advanced knowledge in health care,” said Peter Snyder, senior vice president and chief of research at Lifespan. “One of the ways we do that is by providing our researchers with the tools they need to conduct cutting-edge research in order to discover and create improved diagnostic measures and treatments.”
This new research space is the first step in a major renovation project of the 270,000-square-foot Coro Building, creating a research facility that will serve as a focal point for clinical research in Rhode Island, according to Snyder.
Notable elected officials speaking at the lab’s opening and tour included Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee, Lt. Gov. Elizabeth H. Roberts, U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, U.S. Rep. James R. Langevin, and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras.
Speakers from the Rhode Island medical community included Dr. Edward Wing, dean of medicine and biological sciences at The Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University, Dr. Timothy J. Babineau, president and CEO of Lifespan, Snyder, Quesenberry, and Dr. Louis Rice, chief of the department of medicine at Rhode Island and The Miriam hospitals.