NYU Langone Medical Center experienced an unprecedented storm on October 29th, 2012, causing damage that deeply impacted our patient care, research, and educational facilities. NYULMCs emergency power system was designed and built according to all safety codes to withstand a surge higher than the highest flood level for New York City in the past century. Superstorm Sandy obviously exceeded those levels. Although we safely evacuated over 300 patients from Tisch Hospital and Schwartz Health Care Center (HCC) in the midst of the storm, our main campus incurred extensive damage to its mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, requiring the temporary closure of our main campus. We are now in a post-disaster recovery period addressing the damage caused by the storm and assessing mitigation needs. There are three basic science buildings, the Skirball Institute, the Smilow Research Center, and the Medical Science Building (MSB). Additional basic science laboratories were housed in dedicated areas including Dr. Frankes laboratory on the 5th Floor as part of the Milhauser Laboratories. The below-ground levels of three of these buildings, the Smilow Research Center, Tisch Hospital and MSB were significantly damaged. The animal vivarium of Smilow was deemed completely unrecoverable. Animals from the MSB vivarium were relocated to satellite facilities. Despite the heroic efforts of many that saved a number of rodents from the Smilow Research Center, many still perished, including lines that were genetically altered for use in the study of heart disease, cancer, autism and schizophrenia. The Skirball Institute and the Smilow Research Center were operational by November 12th;however, MSB sustained the most extensive damage, and repairs are ongoing. The restoration of MSB will result in a phased return of operations beginning this summer. Research laboratories in Tisch Hospital including Dr. Frankes laboratory were relocated to new locations in order to facilitate the reopening of Tisch Hospital for patient care. Due to disruptions in power and freezers failing, a large number of refrigerated and frozen biospecimens and reagents were lost. Despite these losses, many samples were saved by transporting dry ice and liquid nitrogen to affected areas until the samples could be relocated to an off-site cryostorage vendor facility.
Drug addiction is a significant but preventable health concern; however; once the addiction process has been initiated; reversing it is difficult. Understanding the biological substrates of addiction is therefore of critical importance. This project is focusedon the Akt kinase intracellular signaling pathway and builds on biochemical and genetic findings of impaired AKT1 signaling in neuropsychiatric disorders with high comorbidity for addiction. To model impaired Akt signaling; we will study genetically-modified models of altered Akt1 signaling in the mouse brain with an emphasis on examining Akt1 deficiency as a possible risk and vulnerability factor in determining behavioral responsiveness to cocaine.