NIH News Release
Office of the Director

Office of Extramural Research

Friday, April 26, 2002

NIH Communications Office
(301) 496-4461

NIH Grants Infrastructure Award
For Embryonic Stem Cell Research to ES Cell International

Bethesda, Maryland — The National Institutes of Health announced today the granting of a resource infrastructure enhancement award for human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research to ES Cell International Pte. Ltd., of Singapore and Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. This award will stimulate the use of hESC in basic research by providing funds for expansion, testing, quality assurance, and distribution of existing cell lines that meet the President's criteria for federal funding of research on hESC.

"This award to ES Cell International represents one of the first major expenditures by the NIH for supporting human embryonic stem cell research," said Ruth Kirschstein, M.D., Acting NIH Director. "By providing these funds, the NIH is hoping to get these cells into the hands of basic scientists as quickly as possible."

Along with ES Cell International, three other entities will receive an infrastructure enhancement award: Cellsaurus, a subsidiary of Bresagen, of Athens, Georgia; the University of California, San Francisco; and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation of Madison, Wisconsin. The four awardees are listed on the NIH Human Embryonic Stem Cell Registry,, and have a combined total of 17 stem cell lines that will be available to basic scientists for research. These awards provide a total of approximately $3.5 million over two years.

NIH sponsors of the awards include the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR); the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI); the National Institute of Aging (NIA); The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD); the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK); and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

A stem cell is a special kind of cell that has a unique capacity to renew itself and to give rise to specialized cell types. Although most cells of the body, such as heart cells or skin cells, are committed to conduct a specific function, a stem cell is uncommitted and remains uncommitted, until it receives a signal to develop into a specialized cell. Researchers hope that the study of hESC will lead to a better understanding of cell function, cell differentiation, and human development.

ES Cell International is a regenerative medicine company focusing on developing therapeutic products from human embryonic stem (hES) cells. ES Cell International was incorporated in Singapore in July 2000. Its corporate headquarters, together with a dedicated research and production facility, are housed within a leading Australian Medical Research Precinct. ES Cell International funds research collaborations with the Monash Institute of Reproduction and Development (Australia), the National University of Singapore (Singapore), Hadassah Medical Organisation (Israel), and the Hubrecht Laboratory (the Netherlands).

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the premier federal agency for biomedical research.