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Dr. Ira Black, 64, neuroscientist and stem-cell pioneer

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. -- Dr. Ira Black, an internationally recognized clinical neuroscientist and a founding director of the Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey, died Tuesday. He was 64.

The cause of death was not immediately disclosed, but a spokeswoman for the university hospital where Dr. Black taught said he died at the hospital at the University of Pennsylvania's Medical School.

Since 1990, Dr. Black was professor and chairman of the Neuroscience and Cell Biology Department at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. The state-sponsored Stem Cell Institute was established nearby in May 2004.

Stem-cell research is an emerging science that advocates say could bring revolutionary new therapies to a variety of disorders, from paralysis to Alzheimer's disease. Governor Richard J. Codey, a champion of public funding for such research, said that Dr. Black left an ''honorable legacy."

''His spirit lives on in his work, which is being applied to the treatment of degenerative and acute neurological diseases and spinal cord injury," Codey said in a statement.

Institute co-founding director Dr. Wise Young called Dr. Black a statesman for his field as well as one of its most rigorous scientists. Dr. Black, a Princeton resident, broke new ground in discovering that certain adult bone marrow cells can be converted into transplantable nerve cells, Young said.

Information about funeral arrangements was not immediately available.

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