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Grant renews funding of research toward cloning primates

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 29 The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded nearly $6.4 million to the Pittsburgh Development Center, which is affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh, to fund investigation aimed at overcoming obstacles to cloning nonhuman primates. Cloning primates is vital to generate better research models for human disease so that studies obtain more accurate results with fewer animals. It also could lead to a greater understanding of the molecular biology of embryonic stem cells, which have the promise to treat disorders such as diabetes and Parkinson's disease as well as damaged hearts and other organs.

The five-year grant award renews funding originally conferred in 1998 to principal investigator Gerald Schatten, Ph.D., director of the Pittsburgh Development Center (PDC) of the Magee-Womens Research Institute, and professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences and cell biology and physiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Co-investigators include Calvin Simerly, Ph.D.; Christopher Navara, Ph.D.; and Laura Hewitson, Ph.D., all of the PDC.

"Valuable discoveries have been made and continue to be made using mice, rats and other genetically modified rodent species as models for human disease, yet many serious disorders often cannot be appropriately studied in these lower animals," said Dr. Schatten, who also is vice chair for research development and deputy director for biotechnology development at the Magee-Womens Research Institute. "Cloned and transgenic nonhuman primates could accelerate the safe and effective implementation of innovative treatments, including stem cell and gene therapies, as well as the understanding of the molecular basis of normal human development."

Scientists at the Pittsburgh Development Center have ambitious goals for the five-year grant period, including overcoming fundamental molecular obstacles to cloning nonhuman primates first reported by the group in
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Contact: Michele Baum
412-647-3555
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
29-Aug-2003


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