Bristol-Myers Squibb has given a $5 million grant to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and Bristol-Myers Squibb Hospital to aid in the fight against childhood obesity, AIDS, and rheumatic disease. This gift will create three new clinical centers. The first, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Pediatric Metabolism Center, addresses pediatric obesity and its related health consequences. This center opened on April 10.

Obesity in children was relatively unheard of a little more than a generation ago, as were diseases and health complications associated with it. Today, Type 2 diabetes, which is associated with obesity, accounts for up to 45 percent of all newly diagnosed diabetes in pediatric patients.

“When I trained in pediatrics, you never heard of Type 2 diabetes in children,” said Barbara Snyder, medical director of the new center, in a prepared statement. “Now physicians are seeing high blood pressure, sleep apnea, breathing problems, and many more complications associated with obesity in children. Obesity is reaching near epidemic proportions in children and calls for new and comprehensive approaches.”

The $5 million gift also supports two other centers now in development: The Center for Pediatric Immunology and Infectious Disease, which will focus on immune-system disorders, including HIV/AIDS and life threatening allergies; and the Center for Children with rheumatic diseases, which will address conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

Washington Group International has given the American Red Cross of Central Jersey $13,000 to help with relief provided to victims of local disasters, with the collection of blood for area hospitals, and with the training of local residents in first aid, CPR, and other life saving skills.

The 3M Corporation has given a $2,500 grant to Raritan Valley Community College Planetarium. The gift benefits the planetarium’s project ASTRO NOVA, which links astronomers with classroom teachers to enhance learning about astronomy. The project pairs teachers in grades 2 to 12 with visiting volunteers for a two-day training workshop. The partners collaborate to develop strategies for bringing a variety of workshop projects to the classroom.

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