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$1.5M Goes to Stem Cell Research at USC and Childrens Hospital Los Angeles

Keck School of Medicine of USC researchers and physicians working at the Health Sciences Campus and at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles have been awarded $1.5 million under two separate grant programs from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine that will help create new cell lines and drive research on specific diseases.

The state’s stem cell agency awarded a total of $24 million in New Cell Lines Awards and Disease Team Planning Grants.

The first program funds research for the development of new lines of pluripotent human stem cells, while the other funds the planning stages of an innovative model for research teams that will collaborate on therapies for a specific disease or injury.

The grants received formal approval from the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee, the 29-member governing board for the institute.

Martin Pera, director of the Eli and Edythe Broad CIRM Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at USC, received a $1.3 million New Cell Line Awards grant that will fund the development of new technologies to derive human pluripotent stem cell lines – cells that can develop into any tissue in the body – for clinical use.

“These new awards represent important steps toward taking stem cell research into the clinic,” said Pera, professor of cell and neurobiology at the Keck School of Medicine. “The grant to our team will enable us to make pluripotent stem cell lines that are safe for patient use from embryos or adult cells.”

Three other Keck School and Childrens Hospital Los Angeles faculty members received disease team planning grants:

� Mark Humayun, professor of ophthalmology, biomedical engineering and cell and neurobiology at USC, received $50,001 toward developing a stem cell-based treatment strategy for age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss and blindness among the elderly.

� David T. Woodley, professor and chairman of dermatology at the Keck School, received a $42,574 grant to study regenerative wound healing of the skin. The investigative team will include members from the academic departments of pathology, dermatology, surgery and cell and neurobiology.

� Donald B. Kohn, director of the Gene, Immune and Stem Cell Therapy Program at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, and professor of pediatrics, molecular microbiology and immunology at the Keck School, received $33,110 toward establishing a multidisciplinary team to develop a stem cell-based gene therapy approach to sickle cell disease.

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine was established when voters passed Proposition 71 in 2004 to borrow and spend $3 billion over 10 years to support stem cell research. To date, USC faculty members have secured more than $50 million in funding.

USC is also part of the Southern California Stem Cell Scientific Collaboration, an agreement among six research institutions allowing members to share training programs, scientific core facilities and expertise, and to team up on a wide range of research programs.

For more information on USC’s stem cell programs, visit USC Stem Cell.

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