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Feinstein Manhasset Earns $6.1M Grant for Red Blood Cell Research



By Priya Persaud


A seven-year initiative focused on further researching the mechanisms behind red blood cell disorders, including Diamond-Blackfan anemia (DBA) and sickle cell disease (SCD), led by Lionel Blanc, Ph.D. of The Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, at Northwell North Shore Hospital in Manhasset has recently been awarded a $6.1 million grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).


Globally, more than one billion people are ravaged by red blood cell disorders, including Diamond-Blackfan anemia and sickle cell disease. Red cell disorders are also a significant cause of mortality and chronic illness worldwide.


To study the disorders and aid in the development of potential treatments, a $6.1 million grant has been awarded to Feinstein by the NIH. Specifically, the grant was awarded to aid a seven-year initiative, consisting of three research projects, led by Lionel Blanc, Ph.D.


A professor in the Institute of Molecular Medicine at the Feinstein Institutes, Dr. Blanc is a highly recognized leader in hematology research. Specifically, in 2022, Dr. Blanc published research findings that convey how the HMGB1 protein, high mobility group box-1 protein, plays an active role in inhibiting the body’s ability to produce adequate oxygen-rich red blood cells. In 2019, Dr. Blanc was awarded a $2.5 million research grant from the NIH to further his research on erythropoietic disorders.


In this new seven-year initiative, Dr. Blanc specifically aims to build the initiative off previously conducted research to better understand red blood cell disorders, such as Diamond-Blackfan anemia and sickle cell anemia. Dr. Blanc and his team precisely hope to dissect the mechanisms and malfunction of erythropoiesis, the proliferation of red blood cells, in such diseases.


According to Dr. Blanc, “Understanding red cell blood disorders, how they develop and progress, is essential given their global impact on millions. This grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute will help pave the way for innovative treatments and improve the quality of life for those affected.”


President and CEO of the Feinstein Institutes and Karches Family Distinguished Chair in Medical Research Kevin J. Tracey, MD, stated, “Dr. Blanc’s work in uncovering the fundamental molecular mechanisms of red blood cell disorders paves a path towards novel therapeutic approaches. His translational research forms the foundation for identifying innovative treatments for complex blood disorders.”


The seven-year initiative will utilize the awarded grant to fund three research projects. These three research projects include a study to examine the cell cycle length regulation and ribosomal activity in diverse age ranges, a project to explore how DBA and SCD are associated through erythromyeloblastic islands, and a study focusing on how potential treatments could be instituted to address these hemtologic disorders.


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