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$1,000,000 Gift Received from Artech Information Systems

Poddars Garrett

Ranjini and Ajay Poddar recently met with Robert C. Garrett to discuss the new research project being funded by their $1,000,000 gift. (Front row: Ajay Poddar, executive vice president, Artech; Robert C. Garrett, president and chief executive officer, Hackensack University Health Network; Ranjini Poddar,executive president, Artech Information Systems, LLC. Back row: Helen Cunning, executive director of development, HackensackUMC Foundation; Robert Korngold, Ph.D., chairman, Department of Research; Yong Zhao, MD, PhD, Associate Scientist, Department of Research and the Jurist Research Institute, HackensackUMC.)

The HackensackUMC Foundation has received a $1,000,000 gift to fund the Artech Autoimmune Cell Re-Education Study at HackensackUMC. The Artech funds will enable Dr. Yong Zhao to establish a research laboratory at HackensackUMC to further his work in addressing autoimmune diseases.

Dr. Zhao's research will include the study of Alopecia Areata (AA), an autoimmune disease that leads to chronic and relapsing hair loss. Ajay Poddar, executive vice president of Artech Information Systems, LLC, says he was motivated to support the exploration of "the root-cause analysis of AA because this disease and other autoimmune conditions don't get the attention they deserve."

Dr. Robert Korngold, chairman of the Department of Research and the Jurist Research Center at HackensackUMC, the host of Dr. Zhao's activity, says the goal is to better understand the mechanism for modulating autoimmunity in Alopecia Areata and other types of diseases. This research will expand on Dr. Zhao's promising results with cord blood cells that began with Type One Diabetes. "The possibilities are very broad, but we need to understand the science. We will be working with Dr. Zhao on preclinical data to provide the basis for future clinical trials." Those trials will require FDA approval.

Poddar's primary concern is for children with AA. "While Alopecia Areata is not a life threatening situation," Poddar explains, "it is a quality of life situation." AA affects children and adults and can have both a social and emotional impact. "Young children with AA have their whole lives ahead of them with this stigma," he says. The first symptoms may be small bald patches and, in some cases, AA can lead to total hair loss. Hair can grow back only to fall out again. AA can go into remission or may be permanent. Poddar says children with AA are constantly "living with optimism and fear at the same time." The unpredictable nature of the disease can cause added psychological stress.

Dr. Korngold says Dr. Zhao's research will involve collaboration with other scientists at HackensackUMC regarding the potential for affecting other conditions such as Type One Diabetes, Crohn's Disease and Multiple Sclerosis. Poddar would also like to see that spirit of collaboration extend to the broader AA research community. "Using this particular research, other researchers within the AA area should be able to collaborate with Dr. Zhao to address the autoimmune imbalance and use drug therapies to help patients who are already suffering." He hopes a combination of these efforts will address other autoimmune issues.

Poddar says, "My biggest hope is for more cooperation between the government and the public to provide funding for autoimmune research and for autoimmune conditions in general."

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About Artech Information Systems LLC

Artech is a minority- and women-owned business enterprise (MWBE) that provides Workforce Solutions and SOW Project Services. Headquartered in Cedar Knolls, NJ, Artech employs over 5,800 professionals and maintains over 21 locations across the U.S., India, and China. Artech was founded in 1992 and today is a Tier-1/Preferred Supplier to more than 65 Fortune and Global 500 companies and numerous federal and state government agencies. Artech is now the tenth largest IT staffing company in the United States.

About Ajay & Ranjini Poddar

Ranjini and Ajay Poddar co-founded Artech in 1992 and are now the president and executive vice president, respectively. They have a personal interest in improving the quality of life for disadvantaged people in the U.S. and abroad, and have dedicated much of their own time to this effort. The Poddars have been mentoring women-owned small business for years, and last year embarked on a mentor-protégé program for veteran-owned business. In addition to their contributions to minority- and women-owned programs in the U.S., in 2007 they constructed the Artech-Dalmia Center for IT in Banasthali, India, to award technical degrees to women.

With this generous gift to HackensackUMC, the Poddars have expanded their humanitarian contributions to fund medical studies that will potentially help millions of men, women and children around the world. The Artech Autoimmune Cell Re-Education Study is at the heart of their efforts.

Donations to the Fund

Contributions to the Artech Autoimmune Cell Re-Education Study Fund to further support this vital research will be gratefully accepted.  Please make your gift online by selecting the Fund from the dropdown menu, or send a check to this address:  HackensackUMC Foundation, 360 Essex Street, Suite 301, Hackensack, NJ 07601, and indicate the Artech Fund on the memo line.

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