This institution proposes to develop contiguous space to house new faculty researchers to be added to those already participating in the existing stem cell research center. This will expand a strong campus commitment to studies pertaining to stem cell research, translational research and regenerative medicine. The proposed renovations will provide approx. 10,000 assignable square feet (asf) of laboratory, office, vivarium and support space, including barrier animal housing and animal imaging instruments to allow analysis of in vivo models. The space will be renovated in a building adjacent to a new stem cell core facility, which was recently funded by a CIRM Shared Research Laboratories Grant.
The existing stem cell research center includes at least five faculty members who have active research projects in basic stem cell science and human embryonic stem cells (hESC). Two of these have CIRM SEED grants, in addition to the CIRM-funded core facility. Another 5-6 existing researchers plan to incorporate basic stem cell studies and/or hESC studies into their research programs in the coming 5 years. Existing faculty members also have active scientific collaborations on stem cell projects with researchers from several institutions in the region. The campus has already approved additional faculty hires in stem cell science; two formal hiring offers have been made (under active consideration as of the date of this application), and at least two more faculty hires in this area are included in near-term campus plans. A long-range goal is to make regenerative medicine a major research theme of the campus and the associated medical school.
The existing stem cell research center has three active research lines that fit into CIRM Element X: 1) high-throughput analysis of functional markers and expressed components of stem cells, both in the pluripotent state and during differentiation to dedicated tissue types; 2) studies of the effects of the environmental niche (associated cell types, environmental conditions, cell communication, etc.) on stem cell pluripotency and differentiation; and 3) analysis of signaling factors and signaling mechanisms that are important in the retention of pluripotency and/or the departure from pluripotency to differentiation.
In addition, both the existing stem cell researchers and those yet to be hired will contribute to CIRM Element Y in the following areas: 1) development of new technologies and assays for markers of pluripotency and differentiation; 2) development of animal models for the role of stem cells in disease processes and the treatment of disease; 3) assessment of compounds or signaling factors as drug discovery candidates; and 4) studies of the role of stem cells in development or treatment of specific human disorders such as muscular dystrophy, Alzheimer’s disease, or birth defects.
When Californians resoundingly passed Prop 71, they demonstrated the importance of stem cell research to all the citizens of our state. This proposal meets the challenges of working with stem cell science toward treatments for human diseases and disorders. The proposed Stem Cell Center will benefit all Californians by expanding the scientific research program in this institution, as well as improving the ability of the institution to serve as a regional focus for training of scientists and physicians interested in using stem cells for research, and ultimately for treatment. The Stem Cell Center will allow research using non-federally funded hESC lines, and will service a group of highly accomplished investigators at the host and neighboring institutions in the most ethnically and culturally diverse and fastest growing region of California. The investigators are at the top of their respective fields, have a range of hESC expertise and are committed to applying their experience to some of the most critical issues facing the field of regenerative medicine today. The group is highly interdisciplinary and has an established history of productive interactions and collaborations. They have created a new network of extended collaborations, aggressively fostering stem cell research in the area, and have secured substantial extramural funding for their research. The proposed users have existing projects that directly impact our understanding of the basic biology of hESC and will generate new findings that will be essential to the successful development of stem cell-based therapies.