|NIGMS Funds New Stem Cell Centers
on Basic Biology, Training Scientists
Human embryonic stem cells have properties that make
them uniquely valuable for studying virtually any cellular
process. Despite their promise for research and therapeutic
purposes, stem cells are difficult to grow in the laboratory
and scientists do not know how to reliably direct them
to become a specific cell type.
“If we are to realize the tremendous potential of stem
cells, we urgently need more fundamental knowledge about
their basic biology and more scientists trained to work
with them,” said Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D., director of
the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
To address these needs, NIGMS has funded three new
Exploratory Centers for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research.
These centers, which will receive an estimated $9 million
over three years, join three others that the institute
funded in September 2003. All of the centers are limited
to using federally approved stem cell lines listed on
the National Institutes of Health Human Embryonic Stem
“These centers are a crucial step in establishing the
infrastructure for scientists to address essential questions
about human development and cell differentiation,” said
Marion M. Zatz, Ph.D., program director for the center
Each center will establish a core facility to support
and train scientists and to define the growth conditions
and molecular characteristics required for maintaining
human embryonic stem cells in an undifferentiated state.
Scientists at the centers also will work on specific
pilot projects to advance fundamental knowledge of human
embryonic stem cell properties and functions.
The new centers are:
- Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City
(Gordon Keller, Ph.D., principal investigator) — $965,150
for the first year of funding to study the growth,
differentiation and genetic alteration of human embryonic
stem cells. The group will focus on developing methods
to genetically modify stem cells and will study the
molecular signals that cause them to differentiate
into red blood cells.
- Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York
City (Eric Bouhassira, Ph.D., principal investigator) — $965,032
for the first year of funding to study how specific
proteins control the growth and differentiation of
human embryonic stem cells. The team will also analyze
genetic networks and study DNA replication and gene
expression in stem cells.
- The Burnham Institute in La Jolla, California (Evan
Snyder, M.D., Ph.D., principal investigator) — $1,060,699
for the first year of funding to study the molecular
signals that enable stem cells to self-renew and specialize,
develop a novel imaging technology to study the cells
in real time, and improve methods for the cells’ growth
and maintenance. The group will also lead training
courses for other scientists.
In addition to funding the six center grants, NIGMS
supports individual grants and grant supplements to
advance stem cell research.
To arrange an interview with Jeremy M. Berg or Marion
M. Zatz, contact the NIGMS Office of Communications
and Public Liaison at 301-496-7301. More information
about NIGMS initiatives related to human embryonic stem
cells is available at http://www.nigms.nih.gov/funding/stemcells.html.
More information on stem cells in general is available
NIGMS (http://www.nigms.nih.gov) is one of 27 components
of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services. The NIGMS mission is
to support basic biomedical research that lays the
foundation for advances in disease diagnosis, treatment,
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The
Nation's Medical Research Agency — is comprised
of 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of
the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services.
It is the primary Federal agency for conducting and
supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical
research, and investigates the causes, treatments,
and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more
information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.