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Harvard Stem Cell Institute hosts inaugural symposia

Cambridge, MA (April 23, 2004)--Seven Harvard schools, seven Harvard-affiliated teaching hospitals, and close to 100 researchers and scientists are banding together in an ambitious new institute with a simple goal: to explore the promising area of stem cell research.

The Harvard Stem Cell Institute holds its inaugural symposia today comprised of a day-long series of presentations for the Harvard community that will explore topics ranging from the science to the ethics to the business of stem cell research.

"The Harvard Stem Cell Institute is an important effort to help unlock one of the fundamental mysteries of life, and could lead to important new medical treatments," said Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers.

Stem cells, with their ability to develop into specialized tissue cells, have excited researchers with their promise to help correct maladies within the body. By understanding how they work, researchers hope they can learn to develop nerve, blood, heart, and other kinds of cells to be used to treat a wide spectrum of diseases.

Organizers of the effort hope that the Institute's stimulating effect will extend beyond Harvard, as new techniques, tools, and knowledge foster research in other locations. The Institute's co-director, Douglas Melton, has already taken the first steps in that direction. He announced in March that he had developed 17 new embryonic stem cell lines with private funding and that he would share those cells freely with other investigators.

In its initial phase, the Institute will be a "virtual" center, supporting research and drawing scientists together who work in laboratories at the affiliated institutions around Boston and Cambridge. Researchers will develop core laboratory facilities and needed technology to perform functions such as cell sorting, imaging of stem cells in their natural environments, and the transfer of nuclei between cells. The institute will also seek to create a community
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Contact: Joe Wrinn
617-495-1585
Harvard University
23-Apr-2004


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