$50M Feinstein expansion debuts at North Shore LIJ

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The North Shore−Long Island Jewish Health System unveiled a $50 million addition Tuesday to its Feinstein Institute for Medical Research that it said will boost its efforts to identify new drugs, technologies and cures for disease.

“It’s a place where science meets the patient. That’s what happens here,” North Shore−LIJ CEO Michael Dowling said of the center. “This is a place where discoveries are made.”

The expansion was made possible through a donation from Leonard Feinstein, co−chairman of Bed, Bath & Beyond, and his wife, Susan. It adds 56,000 square feet to the institute, including space for more laboratories and a conference center.

“This will bring the best of minds from all over the world to exchange views,” Dowling said.

Dr. Kevin Tracey, director and chief executive of the institute, touted the expansion.

“The inspiring beauty of this new place is a reflection of what the Feinstein is,” he said, which included bamboo floors in an effort to be conscious of the environment.

Tracey said dozens of discoveries made by the institute’s scientists have been published in medical journals and Feinstein has conducted more than 1,800 clinical trials. More than 125,000 people have donated blood, tissue or DNA for research purposes at the institute since it opened in 1999, he said.

In speaking of the work done by Feinstein scientists, Dr. Betty Diamond of the institute’s center for autoimmune and musculoskeletal diseases, said employees discovered how antibodies in lupus patients damage nerve cells, causing memory or mood disturbances.

Based on that research, Diamond said, doctors now know how to prevent such antibodies from doing damage.

Lupus patient and Nassau resident Kathleen Nolan, diagnosed with the disease at age 27, said she is feeling better since she has been participating in a Feinstein clinical trial.

“Since I started on the program, I haven’t had any type of lacerations. I’ve had more energy,” said Nolan, now 41. Nasal and oral lacerations are common in lupus patients.

The program involves Nolan coming once a month to the institute to get an infusion of drugs.

She does not know whether she is in the placebo group, but Nolan said she has seen a change for the better since participating.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e−mail at hkoplowitz@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 173.

Updated 6:39 pm, October 10, 2011
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