The UCF Board of Trustees on Thursday, July 29, created the Burnett College of Biomedical Sciences and accepted a $10 million donation from Winter Park residents Al and Nancy Burnett to support the college.
UCF plans to increase the number of faculty members working in biomolecular sciences from 22 to 47 in the next few years. The college initially will have about 900 undergraduates and 75 graduate students who, along with faculty, will conduct research to find novel treatments for cancer, cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases and infectious diseases.
"This is a major step in strengthening UCF's commitment to cutting-edge research that will help patients who suffer from life-threatening diseases," said Pappachan Kolattukudy, who was appointed dean of the Burnett College of Biomedical Sciences. "We want to build a nationally recognized biomedical research and education enterprise at UCF."
Neuroscientist Kiminobu Sugaya, who arrived at UCF in the spring, hopes his research will show that taking stem cells from bone marrow in a patient's hip and injecting them into the brain can help fight Alzheimer's and Lou Gehrig's diseases, strokes and blindness. Sugaya previously taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
In his prior research, which was cited in the Wall Street Journal this month, Sugaya determined that the memories of aged lab rats swimming in a maze dramatically improved when healthy stem cells were injected into their brains. In some cases, the older rats began to perform as well as young ones in the maze. Sugaya plans to continue using rats to test the viability of injecting stem cells into brains.