|NIH Awards a National Stem Cell Bank and New
Centers of Excellence in Translational Human Stem Cell Research
National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director, Elias A. Zerhouni,
M.D., announced today that the NIH has awarded $16.1 million over
four years to fund a National Stem Cell Bank and $9.6 million to
fund two new Centers of Excellence in Translational Human Stem Cell
Research for four years.
The National Stem Cell Bank, awarded to the WiCell Research Institute
in Wisconsin, will consolidate many of the federally funded eligible
human embryonic stem (ES) cell lines in one location, reduce the
costs that researchers have to pay for the cells, and maintain quality
control over the cells. The two Centers of Excellence, awarded to
the University of California, Davis and Northwestern University
will bring together stem cell experts, disease experts, and other
scientists to explore ways human stem cells may be used in the future
to treat a wide range of diseases such as blood cancers and blood
disorders, kidney disease, and neurological disorders.
"The national stem cell bank is an important milestone in
NIH's efforts to support the growing field of stem cell research,"
Dr. Zerhouni said. "This resource will enable us to fully analyze,
characterize and control the quality of approved cell lines. This
will optimize and standardize the techniques used for comparing
the properties of stem cells, a critical step for both the basic
and translational research that is needed for the eventual development
of potential therapies."
The Stem Cell Bank will provide scientists affordable and timely
access to federally approved human embryonic stem cells and other
technical support that will make it easier for scientists to obtain
the cell lines currently listed on the NIH Human Embryonic Stem
Cell Registry (http://stemcells.nih.gov/research/registry/). The stem cell expert team at the WiCell Research Institute, led
by Dr. Derek Hei, principal investigator, and Dr. James Thomson,
scientific director, will also ensure consistent quality of the
lines by analyzing and comparing existing cell lines; documenting
the growth characteristics of cell lines; assessing the cells’
genetic stability; and determining the molecular background and
basic characteristics of the different cell lines.
Researchers at the two Stem Cell Centers of Excellence will develop
new technologies to substantially advance the state of the art in
using stem cells to approach a particular disease. The Centers are
designed to encourage formation of new groups of investigators and
partnering with clinicians to conduct stem cell research for disease
specific applications, and increase the pool of professional scientists
with disease specific expertise who work in stem cell biology.
The new centers are:
The Office of the Director, the central office at NIH, is responsible
for setting policy for NIH, which includes 27 Institutes and Centers.
This involves planning, managing, and coordinating the programs and
activities of all NIH components. The Office of the Director also
includes program offices which are responsible for stimulating specific
areas of research throughout NIH. Additional information is available
- Northwestern University: John A. Kessler, M.D., principal investigator,
will receive $3.6 million over four years to study factors that
influence the differentiation of human ES cells, and to look at
combining unique biomaterials and human ES cells as a possible means
to repair the damaged spinal cord.
- University of California, Davis: Alice F. Tarantal, Ph.D., principal
investigator, will receive $6 million over four years to conduct
multidisciplinary stem and progenitor cell research in preclinical
primate models. The Center will study stem and progenitor cell co–culture
methods for increasing the number of umbilical cord blood stem cells
available for cell transplants, methods to isolate and expand renal
progenitor cells as a potential cell therapy for urinary tract obstruction
in children with kidney disease, and improved cell imaging methods
that could be used for tracking small numbers of transplanted stem
cells in clinical studies.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's
Medical Research Agency — 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 it 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.