As we approach the end of the year and the holiday season, we are thankful for all the great successes we have had over the past year. Several of our colleagues have made major advances in developing new treatments for human disease. We are also excited to have been joined by recent recruits to the stem cell center. It’s been invigorating to see young people join the center and establish labs with all the vitality and innovative ideas that this process brings. Over the year we’ve had the privilege to get to know many more members of the community, including many patients and their families. For me these people are the most inspirational. Their strength and courage in the face of adversity makes all of the scientists here even more keenly aware of how important and impactful our work could be. It’s the patients and their families that make us want to come to work every day. Most recently Sue and Bill Gross very generously offered to provide $4 million to support our work if we could match it through other gifts. Through that challenge, we’ve made new friends – people who share Sue and Bill’s vision to develop new treatments for human disease. As we celebrate the holidays we’ll look forward to a new year filled with enormous hope and excitement. It’s an exciting time to be in science.
– Peter Donovan, director of the Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center
Stem Cell Awareness Week
The world comes to UCI –Stem Cell Awareness Week brought the world to Sue & Bill Gross Hall: A CIRM Institute. On Oct. 1, more than 200 Orange County high school students toured the building to learn more about the promise of stem cells, and, more importantly, that science is an exciting and important field that one day they can pursue. On Oct. 2, the hall opened its doors to the campus community, and on Oct. 3, the center hosted a day-long symposium, followed by a reception on the adjacent lawn.
Alzheimer's disease could be helped by a type of brain cell recently generated from embryonic stem cells –Dr. Edwin Monuki of the Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center and colleagues have created a new stem cell-derived cell type with unique promise for treating neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. They developed these cells — called choroid plexus epithelial cells — from existing mouse and human embryonic stem cell lines. “Our method is promising,” he says, “because for the first time we can use stem cells to create large amounts of these epithelial cells, which could be utilized in different ways to treat neurodegenerative diseases.” Read more here.
Hot off the press
Stem cell duo named to Hot 25 list – Brian Cummings and Aileen Anderson (pictured) of the Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center are among this year's "Hottest 25 People in O.C.," a designation conferred annually by OC Metro, Orange County's leading business magazine. The husband and wife were chosen for their research leading to a clinical trial in Switzerland using stem cells to treat spinal cord injury. They and their partners at StemCells Inc. are sharing $20 million recently awarded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to help establish the first human clinical trials in the U.S. "Stem cell research is the newest frontier in science," Cummings told OC Metro. "So it presents the greatest challenges and the greatest potential for new discoveries. I love the collaborative effort and the ability to work with my wife – there's a lot to love."
Research making a difference – Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center researchers garnered the following grants and donations over the past few months.
Dr. Hans Keirstead received a $75,000 donation from the Susan Scott Foundation in November for unrestricted spinal cord injury research.
Dr. Mathew Blurton-Jones received $100,000 from the Alzheimer’s Association to test the therapeutic effects of neural stem cells.
Dr. David J. Reinkensmeyer is a co-principal investigator on a NIH grant, in which he is receiving $654,000 to progress the intelligent use of robotic devices for rehabilitation therapy and assistance for people with a physical impairment after stroke, spinal cord injury, and cerebral palsy. He also is a co-principal investigator on a National Institutes of Health grant, in which he is receiving $70,000 to help train the next generation of rehabilitation scientists to conduct basic, translational and clinical research.
Dr. Steven Cramer and Dr. Reinkensmeyer are co-investigators on a NIH grant, in which they are receiving $48,000 to develop and test a commercial prototype of a sensorized glove for retraining and measuring hand function. The research prototype of the glove was developed at the iMove collaboratory in the Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center.
Dr. Edwin Monuki and Dr. Lisa Flanagan are co-investigators on a UCI Interdisciplinary Innovation Initiative, in which they are receiving $59,000 to develop a microfluidic culture system for the blood-brain and blood- cerebrospinal fluid barriers. Monuki is also a co-investigator on a California Institute for Regenerative Medicine grant, in which he is receiving $192,000 to help evaluate the use of stem cells as a novel therapy for Hurler syndrome.
Learn more about stem cell basics here. Learn more about stem cell research here. Learn more about patient groups that support stem cell research and how you can get involved here. Learn more about stem cell research in California here.
Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, Library Live! Wth Dr. Hans Keirstead Newport Beach Public Library 1000 Avocado Ave., Newport Beach 7 – 8:30 p.m. FREE. Suggested donation: $10 Advance reservations: nbplfoundation.org