Taubman gives Hadassah $300,000 to fight ALS

14Oct10

In support of continued collaboration researching the use of stem cell technology to treat Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Detroit philanthropist A. Alfred Taubman has donated $300,000 to Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America.  Taubman is known for his ongoing support of stem cell research, and was honored October 5 with the Stem Cell Action Award by the Genetics Policy Institute, during the 2010 World Stem Cell Summit in Detroit.

Taubman’s gift supports collaborative research between Dr. Benjamin Reubinoff, Director of the Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Center at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, and Dr. Eva Feldman, Director of the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute at the University of Michigan.  Since 2009, the two researchers have been working together to study stem cell therapy in the treatment of ALS.  Hadassah is a partner in the Taubman Institute-Israel Initiative, which brings together medical researchers at the University of Michigan and in Israel.

With the help of Taubman’s gift, the international team will apply the latest embryonic stem cell technology to develop in test tubes human tissue containing the genetic defects for ALS, in order to mimic the conditions in which ALS occurs.  The goal is to create human models of ALS on which the doctors can test new treatments.

“When I discussed Reubinoff’s research with him a few years ago, I was immediately impressed and felt it critical that I do what I could to support his groundbreaking work in stem cell research,” Taubman said.  “We are fortunate to have a climate in Michigan that welcomes and encourages embryonic stem cell research, and the powerful combination of Reubinoff’s and Feldman’s medical minds, backed by the prestige of the Hadassah Medical Center and the University of Michigan, has the potential to seriously impact medical history.”

The Greater Detroit Chapter of Hadassah has worked on Hadassah’s behalf to support medical research at a local level.  Its members co-sponsored an event for Reubinoff and Feldman and University of Michigan leaders following Reubinoff’s initial visit to Michigan, when he presented the second annual A. Alfred Taubman Lectureship on his work in January 2009.

“Supporting advanced medical research is at the core of Hadassah’s mission,” said Nancy Falchuk, Hadassah’s National President.  “Stem cell research has the potential to be at the forefront of medical progress.  We are grateful for Mr. Taubman’s generous gift facilitating Dr. Reubinoff’s and Dr. Feldman’s critical work in this field.”

Alfred Taubman, founder of real estate development company Taubman Centers, founded the Taubman Institute at the University of Michigan in 2007, with a gift of $22 million. The funds are part of more than $60 million Taubman has given to the university.

Founded in 1912, Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, is the largest women’s, largest Zionist, and largest Jewish membership organization in the United States. In Israel, it supports medical care and research, education and youth programs, and reforestation and parks projects.  In the United States, Hadassah promotes health education, social action and advocacy, volunteerism, Jewish education and research, Young Judaea and connections with Israel. For more information on the organization, its projects and how to become a member or donate, please visit http://www.hadassah.org.

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