Jun. 25, 2020
Philanthropists Larry and Judy Tanenbaum have made a new donation of $1 million to fuel COVID-19 research at Sinai Health’s Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute (LTRI). Their gift will be used to match all new donations to the LTRI for COVID-19 and other related groundbreaking research.
The LTRI ranks in the top one per cent of global academic institutions in molecular and cell biology. A number of its researchers are on the front lines of discovering how best to identify and treat COVID-19, including looking at how the virus spreads and exploring new drug therapies.
“Larry and Judy Tanenbaum are visionary supporters of research,” said Louis de Melo, CEO of Sinai Health Foundation. “Thanks to their generosity, LTRI is at the forefront of a significant number of advances and treatments related to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Jeff Wrana, senior investigator at LTRI, is using his robotics lab to develop a mass scale COVID-19 blood test. He is exploring, with fellow LTRI investigators Mike Fralick and Keiran Campbell, whether application of artificial intelligence might identify COVID-19 patients at risk of severe disease.
“Turning ideas into scientific advances wouldn’t be possible without people like Larry and Judy Tanenbaum,” Wrana said. “The work being done today is our best hope for a world free from the fear of COVID-19 and will provide a road map of how to tackle other infectious diseases that might emerge in the future.”
The global spread of COVID-19 has demonstrated the important need for research and science. One of the biggest challenges facing scientists today is stable funding.
“Philanthropists have an essential role to play in combatting the historic health challenge of COVID-19,” said Larry Tanenbaum. “Sinai Health’s researchers are some of the best and brightest minds in the world. We are proud to fuel their scientific discovery because they in turn are our best hope for future treatments and cures.”
Andras Nagy, senior scientist at LTRI, is working on getting his lab up and running after the pandemic resulted in many being shut down. He’s exploring the use of cells to secrete antibodies that block viral infection, identified by Sachdev Sidhu at University of Toronto, as a promising way to treat and possibly prevent COVID-19.
“This funding will allow us to assemble a toolkit, which was designed to support cell therapy cures for degenerative diseases, and apply it towards infectious diseases,” Nagy said. “COVID-19 has become a powerful catalyst to find new ways to eradicate epidemics and pandemics, even those for which vaccines have not been developed or failed.”
In 2013, the Tanenbaums gave a transformative $35 million gift in support of research at Mount Sinai Hospital. This has helped propel LTRI into a globally leading research institute attracting world-leading researchers and infrastructure.
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